"#GlazersOut is a harmless hashtag"
"Reds protest on Twitter but don’t turn up when there’s a chance to show their faces - So what gives?"
It seems like some people are still living in the stone-age - either that or they are just too narrow-minded to embrace a fresh and modern form of protest. Yes, a protest, not a 'protest'.
First of all, let me address the 'protest' that was organised last Saturday at Old Trafford, which one journalist referred to, and emphasised in his article. When I say organised, I use that term very, very loosely. The 'protest' was one man's idea, with no real plan. He jumped on the back of a trend and decided that a random Saturday afternoon at the end of June would be a good idea, with just a weeks notice.
The person who organised this protest had concerns highlighted to him before going ahead, I even put a final tweet out to him the night before to emphasise that, but he went ahead anyway. To show you how serious he was, he's since changed his stance completely and now wants nothing to do with any form of protest, online or offline. He's now very much against a 'Glazers Out' campaign at all.
It's unfortunate, as people in the mainstream media are now using this as a stick to beat the campaign with, although it was essentially a non-event. It could happen again this weekend if some other random guy puts a tweet out, informs the police and turns up at the ground with a flag - it's nothing to write home about - unless of course you want to, to fit an agenda.
Now that I've got that out of the way, let's do what the majority of the mainstream media won't... look at the positives!
In the last 3 weeks, #GlazersOut has gained serious traction on social media. #GlazersOut has trended #1 worldwide in week 1 and #2 worldwide in the second week. #CancelMUTV, a new hashtag trended #4 in the UK last night, denied top spot only due to Zuckerberg's platform issues.
#GlazersOut has also trended on days where there has been no specific effort, which shows that naturally, on a daily basis, fans are voicing their discontent. Trending on Twitter can be classed as a small win - it's raised awareness, brilliant - but how is that having an impact on Manchester United?
Trending was great, but in the last 3 weeks there have been lots of these 'small wins'. The progress made in just 3 weeks is actually quite staggering and I'm surprised that the effort of thousands of people coming together hasn't been applauded by some. In fact, I'm not surprised - but if you're convinced that social media is pointless, this might change your mind...
@ManUtd goes silent - At the height of #GlazersOut trending number 1 worldwide in the first week, the club account was stifled. The account didn't tweet for almost 72 hours, which is a strange occurrence, given how precious they are about their online image. Maybe it was due to something else, but it probably wasn't - I suspect it was damage limitation but more importantly a sign of fans being heard.
Now, every post that Man Utd put out is littered with Anti-Glazers content. Even the Wan-Bissaka announcement got the same treatment. It's not people doing it for the sake of it, or just 'faceless accounts' being petty, it's real people and it's a sign that we're not going anywhere.
The Paddy Crerand Show cancelled... 2 weeks running - The Paddy Crerand Show, a popular phone-in show for fans on MUTV, hasn't aired for 2 consecutive weeks. Given that no real explanation has been given by the club, I'd say that it would be fair to assume they don't want fans to voice their concerns about the ownership on the official club channel?
Alerting the sponsors - Some fans have also taken #GlazersOut to the club's sponsors' twitter feeds. Tweets are being consistently sent to make them aware of the severe problems that The Glazers have caused at Manchester United, especially from a financial point of view. Some sponsors have reacted by blocking fans, some have replied - almost all of them will certainly be looking for answers. You'd expect that there would be some communication from Manchester United to the sponsors to explain this some time soon, that's if it hasn't happened already...
Alerting the investors ($MANU stock price down) - Something else that ended up trending last week without intention was $MANU, the tag used for Manchester United stocks. Thousands of fans across the globe tweeted the $MANU tag to alert potential and current investors to the fan unrest and the issues that reside at the club. It's not a direct result of the noise fans are making, but the Manchester United stock price is down.
Cancellations/Boycotts - Aside from MUTV, which we'll come on to shortly, hundreds of fans have tweeted me about not renewing their club memberships, boycotting certain sponsors that they genuinely use and insisting that they will no longer buy any club merchandise. Of course, a lot of that won't be as a result of a social media campaign, but a sizeable chunk is. Even in my close circle within the last week, 2 friends have cancelled MUTV and Official Memberships, my Sister who gets the new shirt every year, hasn't this year and a work colleague has cancelled MUTV after being a customer since it launched in 1998.
The campaign has generated so much interest globally that people everywhere in the world are wanting to do their own bit. I've had hundreds of tweets in the last few weeks and I had probably close to a hundred last night alone. Whether you like it or not, people are making a stand.
UK Coverage - Aside from the odd article belittling the efforts of fans or questioning the power of social media, #GlazersOut has received some great coverage in the UK. It's been featured in; The Express, Sport Bible, Daily Star and TalkSport among countless others.
Worldwide Coverage - #GlazersOut hasn't just hit the UK media, it's been covered in some of the biggest publications across the pond. The Washington Post, NBC Sports, The Tampa Bay Times and even NFL site, The Pewter Plank have written about the movement.
Awareness is at an all-time high.
Ex-players on board - Whilst the vast, vast majority of ex-Manchester United players remain tight-lipped, I'll let you work out your own reasons why, it's refreshing to see John O'Kane and Willie Morgan publicly back the movement. In the last 3 weeks, 2 ex-players have been consistently vocal in their stance. One thing that was highlighted this week is the fact that this campaign needs recognised, trustworthy leaders - alongside the likes of MUST, a couple of ex-players being involved certainly wouldn't hurt...
#CancelMUTV - Last night it was something slightly different trending, albeit with the same goal in mind. I don't speak for everyone, but the intention wasn't for #CancelMUTV to trend (although it did, 4th in the UK and in multiple other countries) - the intention was to show that any Manchester United fan, regardless of where they are in the world, can have a direct impact. I ran a poll last night to gauge the number of people that have cancelled MUTV, either in the last few weeks or last night. With 9 hours left, the poll has received 4,341 votes - 27% (1,172) indicated they had cancelled in the last few weeks, 8% (347) said they hadn't cancelled whilst the majority indicated they'd never had it.
Let's be conservative and say that those 1,172 who have said they have cancelled in the last few weeks are worth £5 each (the price for MUTV varies based on country, it's higher in the UK). That's a £5,860 loss per month and over £70,000 per year!
That's conservative, based on a small sample of just over 4,000 people focused on the last few weeks. I think it's a fair assumption to say that figure is higher. Poll link.
And now the most important - Fans across the world United by #GlazersOut
It's important to acknowledge that loyal fans do in fact exist outside of the M1 postcode. Loyal fans who wake up at 3am in the morning every single week to watch the dulcet football that Manchester United have produced as of late.
You don't need to be a match-going fan to care about United. The ignorance to discard foreign fans, the ones who make up the majority of the club's fan revenue, is nothing short of ridiculous.
Whether you live in Stretford or Shangai, every fan can have a huge impact. If United fans are ever going to have an impact, it needs to be a united effort globally - not just a couple of thousand Season Ticket holders protesting at the ground. Fans across planet earth need to be involved. Fans who live in the UK but have never been to Old Trafford need to be involved. This is a battle that we can only win with everyone on board.
#GlazersOut has brought fans together like never before and this is just the start.
To wrap that up, fans are being heard. On a global scale. The club is taking note, the sponsors are taking note, the media are taking note, all over the world and the campaign, despite just being 3 weeks old, has already had an enormous impact. An impact that has directly hit the club in a number of ways, including financially.
Regardless of what your personal motives are to want change at Manchester United, whether you've wanted the 'Glazers Out' since the day they took control or if you're just simply sick of the performances on the pitch, I urge you to remain patient but consistent. This campaign is long-term, you have to be in this for the long haul. Change doesn't happen overnight. Support the team on the pitch but don't lose your voice off it. If you're fed up of this ownership, remain loyal to consistently do your own little bit to push for change.
A combination of everything is needed. The old-school peaceful protests outside of the ground, boycotts of games (whether that be the first 15 minutes, or a mass walk-out), banners at away games, billboards, stickers, social media campaigns - anything that creates awareness and lets fans be heard.
Every fan across the globe can do their bit and that's the point, and that's why social media isn't just an add-on to a protest, or a harmless hashtag, it's the key.