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June 2021

It takes a lot for club owners to lose the media, but that’s what Man U have done

by Tony Attwood

Arsenal, as you will know if you are old enough to remember or if you have read the club’s history, were docked two points in 1990 for the behaviour of their players on the pitch during a bit of argy-bargy in a game at Old Trafford, the so-called Theatre of Dreams.

It was a punishment never set out before, and introduced under a catch all regulation that basically said that the Football League could hand out any punishment it felt like.  I am not sure it has ever been repeated since.

That game continued to its end.  Last night’s match involving Manchester United was not played.  Will the club get any penalty for that?

It seems very unlikely.  For a start I haven’t found any of the media suggesting that Manchester United should be punished at all for failing to provide a secure venue for a match, or for failing to keep the crowd under control.  Indeed the fact that such a large number of people were able to break into the ground does suggest that security in Manchester is pretty lax.

Mind you this is the club that had a bomb scare which resulted in a match being called off.   The boss of the firm that left the fake bomb at Old Trafford apologised for making a “mistake” after it was left there following a security test run.  The bomb scare led to the postponement of a match against Bournemouth.

But discussion on issues like these and resultant points deductions is there none.   The media and the clubs operate a cosy cartel in which boundaries of what can and cannot be discussed are clear and rarely overstepped.  Criticism of owners is kept to a minimum, fans should know their place, poor stadia facilities are very rarely mentioned (largely because journalists are cosseted in their private section of the ground with their own entrance and exit), and dubious and devious behaviour by referees is certainly never even to be considered.

Indeed so bad has the situation got that magazines and newspapers that normally pride themselves on being exact and correct in their commentaries have been posting fake stories that the reversal of home and away advantage has never happened.  And of course if it never happened then there’s no story about refereeing incompetence that springs from these findings.

Then again, not too long ago (March in fact) the Daily Mirror reported that Arsenal were involved in match fixing, a complete fantasy and nonsense of course, but no apology was forthcoming from the Mirror even after we pointed out the errors in their piece. 

So the reaction of yesterday at Old Trafford is interesting, as it might (only “might” nothing more than that as yet) mean that there is a slight shift from media world into footballing reality.

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The Daily Mail for example is running the headline that “‘Sometimes you have to put a marker down for people to take notice’: Roy Keane insists ‘this is just the start’ of Man United fans’ protests against Glazer ownership after Old Trafford break-in.”

They also note that “Commentator Jon Champion was abruptly CUT OFF on American TV as he spoke out against the Glazer family and criticised the ‘franchise’ system of sports ownership in the States during coverage of the postponement at Manchester United.”

Even the Mail which normally blames fans for everything, says, “Man United and Liverpool wanted Project Big Picture – and now they’ve got one”.  The argument is that this was “legitimate protest”.

The Daily Express however doesn’t even see the events of last night as the lead story.  Instead they run with “Arsenal ‘could sack Mikel Arteta next season’ as Gunners boss handed transfer ultimatum”.  But being the Excess it isn’t even their own research as they cite that most unreliable source, TalkSport, as saying that their “report claims that the 39-year-old has been given a ten-match ultimatum to show that his side can be competitive, which is set to come into effect at the start of next season.”

The Daily Mirror takes a different line with “EXCLUSIVE FOOTAGE: Police officer appears to punch Man Utd fan on ground in eyewitness video amid clashes outside team hotel during Glazer protests.”

The Metro leads with, “Manchester United’s postponed match against Liverpool has created a scheduling nightmare for the Premier League with the Red Devils having no free midweeks between now and the end of the season.”  No punishment for Man U then.   The whole football system seems to be falling apart, and the Metro is worried about fixture scheduling, and the Express are thinking about Arsenal sacking their manager!

What no one is asking is whether Manchester United will be sanctioned for failing to control its fans.  And by and large the event, which could have a huge impact on where the Premier League heads next under its billionaire owners,   

Ah well, the media are probably just hoping it will all soon pass.

Gaslighting: how refereeing in the Premier League is manipulated, and why the media never speak about it.

(Footnote: the first ever mention of gaslighting in connection with football appeared in the media – six weeks after the launch of the above series on Untold)

6 comments to It takes a lot for club owners to lose the media, but that’s what Man U have done

  • blink

    Not sure if its correct to have sanctions against the club?
    Vast majority of fans were peaceful in the protest.

    If the same had happened when Arsenal fans protested before the Everton game would you want us punished?
    Points deduction is a tough one, Is it really fair to punish the players for fans actions?
    When we got docked points in the case you mentioned it was the players that misbehaved.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    The absolute minimum should be Liverpool being awarded a 3-0 victory for United being unable to fulfill a fixture.

    Plenty of precedent for that step.

  • Arome

    Tony this is strange reasoning from you.
    1. Is the club responsible for security? I doubt it. Security at stadiums I believe is the responsibility of the local authorities, of course with the full support of the club’s. I’m sure you agree with this because in your series of articles lamenting tax payers monies being used to fund westham’s use of the London stadium, you stated same. So I believe you want Man utd sanctioned not because you feel it’s right, but because you don’t like them. Of course as fans it’s expected, but as a blogetta shouldn’t you do better?

    2. Should Man utd be held responsible for the action of it’s fans? I’m sure there are valid arguments for and against, there’s certainly precedence, However holding the club responsible for the actions of it’s players(as arsenal was) is definitely not one of such precedents. But of course you and everyone else knew that, quite why you expect your readers to think differently is beyond me, it’s not as if we’re illiterates

  • John L

    Of course MU is responsible for the security of the ground, if not the behaviour of its fans.

    The fact that it proved possible for so many to gain entry to the stadium is a matter for which the club is accountable.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I am in agreement with Andrew that this game must be awarded to Liverpool as it was no fault of theirs. That the home team is responsible for its own safety and security . Why should Liverpool be penalised ? And why should we make excuses for the breaches in United’s stadium. How difficult is it to just close the gates ?

    To keep out people who were allegedly loyal and hard core fans , had no right to encroach into , and enjoy the sunshine inside the stadium while recording all this farce. Not to mention not bothering about social distancing , or wearing of masks. All the best to those who end up with Covid 19.

    If it was me , I’d close that stadium for 6 months , and get United to find alternate home grounds. And no fans allowed in. That should be a good start !
    It would bankrupt their owners , as the fans wished , till a brand new fool, ….sorry brand new investor comes in shining amour to fulfill all the fans wishes and dreams.

  • Should Arsenal have been held responsible for the behaviour of Liverpool fans in 1989? Asking for a friend.

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