AFTER the gloriously farcical botched non-launch of the European Super League, I was miserably certain the idea would be back to haunt us sooner rather than later.
I’m not so sure now. It’s the Manchester United fans behind Sunday’s rumpus at Old Trafford who have given me pause for thought.
Maybe, just maybe, we fans won’t let corporations do as they please with our clubs any more.
I’m not condoning the kind of public disorder we saw on Sunday and, in any case, there’s a limit to what sheer naughtiness can achieve.
In the end, if the Glazers don’t want to sell, there is nothing anyone — least of all ordinary fans — can do to force them. That’s capitalism.
Some will look upon Sunday’s protesters with pity, rather than any kind of admiration.
The Glazers, for example, doubtless see the protesters as poor, naive souls who comically think they can change the natural order of things by standing on a football pitch with a can of lager in one hand and a flare in the other.
On the other hand, I doubt there has ever been a movement for change that didn’t start with people feeling completely powerless.
If fans of all clubs can speak with one angry voice, there is no knowing what can be achieved.
One of Sunday’s protesters, a 23-year-old called Elliot Brady, was quoted as saying it was the “best protest you will see at any ground and makes me proud to be a part of it”.
In a way this reminded me of the kind of cry of hopeless defiance my West Brom mates and I would say to each other on the way home after a thumping at, say, Old Trafford.
“We might have lost,” we’d grumble, “but we bloody out-sang them.”
I always felt this a rather tragic thing to boast about, the last refuge for fans of hopeless teams.
But it also speaks of pride and knowing what you’re about. And that’s not nothing, by any means.
BADGE OF PRIDE
What Elliot said about Sunday being the “best protest you will see at any ground” gives me a bit of hope because it suggests this kind of protest could become a competitive element between fans of different clubs, the subject of what journalists call “bragging rights”.
For example, Newcastle United fans might see Elliot’s claim and say: “Oh yeah? Best protests at any ground? We’ll see about that.”
To be clear, I’m really not advocating competitive public disorderliness.
But it would be great if, as a body of fans, your intolerance of big-money machinations at your club was part of what defined you.
It could be part of what you boast about. Never mind your league titles and FA Cups.
You could boast, “We saw off this, that or the other hedge fund owner/tycoon/oligarch,” or whatever you will.
There’s a chant in there somewhere and a badge of pride to wear with it.
At the root of it all lies money which, I appreciate, isn’t new news.
But as long as club owners are in it to make their fortunes — or in the Glazers’ case, borrow fortunes — it’s difficult to see how things are going to improve.
I’m no expert on the ownership of great clubs back in the Sixties and Seventies but I’m pretty sure they weren’t in it for the money.
They HAD money, for sure, and it accorded them status and prestige. But overwhelmingly it would have been for a deep-rooted love of the club.
We’re all guilty of being blinded by the light of the money when someone comes in for our club.
We need to shield our eyes from that, take a good, close look instead at what they’re all about and, if necessary, settle for a bit less money and bit more love.
If Manchester United fans do make enough of a nuisance of themselves, I suppose it might persuade the Glazers to sell.
The irony is that prospective buyers may not fancy buying a club whose fans have shown they won’t tolerate owners doing as they please with it.
Owners LIKE to do exactly what they please. It’s in their nature.
The club could conceivably end up the poorer . . . but might be all the richer for it.
In awe of Will power
I’VE been lucky enough to meet sportsmen and women of all shapes, sizes and nationalities.
And I’ve come across another one I’d like to add to my tally.
I was reading a report of Leinster’s defeat at the hands of La Rochelle in the semi-final of rugby union’s European Champions Cup.
It was the headline that caught my eye: “Skelton the giant cuts Leinster down to size.”
Somehow I’d not come across Will Skelton before. He scored a try in the game, “crowning a shuddering personal display”.
Shuddering? I felt a shudder myself at the very word.
It turns out that Will, or Mr Skelton as I’ll address him should we ever meet, is 6ft 8in and 22st.
Furthermore, the big fella takes size 19 (nineteen!) shoes.
Can you imagine having that running towards you?
Actually, the interview I really want is not with Mr Skelton.
It’s with any rugby player who’s come up against him . . . if, of course, they’ve lived to tell the tale.
What a LoD of tosh
I’M still recovering from the finale of Line Of Duty – and not in a good way.
So that hapless copper with an accent a bit like mine is sort of H, but actually not?
I felt almost drunk on this heady cocktail of disappointment and bafflement.
All I know for sure is that Carmichael does my head in, Chloe does most of the work and life in a witness protection scheme looks rather wonderful.
How do I get on one?
Overall, I think we are all agreed that creator Jed Mercurio has let us down very badly.
We desperately needed this H business resolved with someone nasty’s head on a plate and we’re very upset we didn’t get this.
However, the way is apparently now open for season seven.
So please, Jed, get cracking on it. Because we can’t wait.
A change of approach for Billie? Corset isn’t
I’VE come to Billie Eilish rather late. I was aware she was well known for dressing in baggy clothes and refusing to be sexualised.
I decided it was refreshing to see her enjoy pop stardom this way.
Then she appeared in the pages of Vogue in a state of undress.
I asked my daughter if it was in any way disappointing she’d made this move.
“No, of course not,” my daughter promptly advised me. “She can wear what she likes, weirdo.”
So I’ll leave it at that.
Lunar lesson to all
MICHAEL COLLINS, the astronaut who stayed in the lunar command module while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin popped down to walk on the moon, died last week.
Among the tributes, I read something rather beautiful he said about what it was all for.
He stressed it wasn’t all about the Americans trying to show the Soviets who was boss.
A victory lap of the world he took with Armstrong and Aldrin after that historic landing taught him otherwise.
“I thought the overall reaction would be, ‘Well, you Americans finally did it, didn’t you?’. Instead of that, everywhere we went – it was unanimous – it was, ‘WE did it, we did it’.
“That is the part of Apollo that I think is really the wonderful part of it.
“No matter where your country, no matter what your religion, from people everywhere, the reception we got was unanimous. ‘We, humanity, we humans, we did this wonderful thing’.”
It’s nice to think this is how humankind might feel when we’ve finally seen off Covid.
A low bar to clear
LIKE most drinkers, I’ve spent a fair bit of time shivering uncontrollably in pub gardens sipping beer when I really wanted hot chocolate.
But I’m seeing some positives.
I met a couple of mates at a pub in West London. We took our seats at a table with a number and a QR code.
I pointed my phone at the code and a menu popped up.
I ticked boxes next to three drinks, some nuts and pressed send.
The drinks and nuts were paid for by my phone and a member of staff delivered them within minutes.
What’s not to love?
I’ve never had a problem ordering at the bar or fighting for a seat, and I know this isn’t necessarily what’s meant when we talk about “building back better”.
But it felt like it to me.
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