Arnold responded: “Does it really? You know what it was like in 2005. Pressure was put on the owners not to buy the club and they bought the club anyway. If you want to think of them that way, they’re rock hard.”
The fan interjected: “They don’t care, I understand that.”
Arnold said: “‘Don’t care’ is the wrong word, they’re not frightened of people.”
And that’s the crux of it. The Glazers have enough money to not care what the fans think, even if the fans are the lifeblood of the club, supposedly. And the fans may feel they can chase out the sponsors, but this is MANCHESTER UNITED. There will always be more sponsors, which is exactly why the Glazers bought the team in 2005. Whether the Glazers are geniuses or blithering morons (most would lean toward the latter), this is an operation that is basically too big to fail, though lord knows they’ve tried.
That’s still a sobering thing to hear for fans in the UK and probably around a lot of the world, where clubs aren’t all that far removed from being extensions of the communities and towns they sprang from. It’s wholly unfair to Arnold, who is a genuine fan as well as running the team, that he has to show the stones to talk to the fans while the Glazers hide somewhere in a Florida mansion when they’re the problem. But that’s also the job Arnold took.
You can’t help but wonder what English soccer will lose when fans feel they are completely helpless against owners like the Glazers. It’s a feeling we’ve known our entire lives and probably years longer, but that’s the difference in the atmospheres and feeling between American sports and sports elsewhere, isn’t it? It’s why we watch European soccer in greater numbers every year, or at least one reason. To at least witness, if not feel part of, something where the fans feel part of it. Not having it just bestowed upon us by a small group of uber-rich shit demons that would step on our tracheas for another $5 if given the chance.
Arnold certainly isn’t wrong and he’s only being honest. And there were only 12 fans or so in the pub. But that message got out, and the Glazers may think silence will be better than the protests they’ve been subjected to for a few years now. But apathy is worse than anger. On the flip side, the bet they made was that the passion that causes fans to organize protests and storm the stadium, a passion you won’t find here, would keep United a cash cow. They may slander the sponsors on websites but they’ll never not show up to Old Trafford. Come the opening of the Premier League season in August, you can be sure there will be 65,000 there.
Perhaps they’re just not as far along in understanding their passion will be used against them. Even if it’s United, it’ll be sad to watch them and so many more come to accept that. But it will happen.