Manchester United suffered one of the most humiliating afternoons in their recent history yesterday, and that’s saying something considering how bad their recent history has been. It was a full-on disaster that befell them at Brentford, and as shocking as it was the biggest take away from it is that very few people can honestly claim to have been shocked.
There are fans of our club who have, for years, pined for a sugar daddy.
One of the constant critiques of Dermot Desmond is that the doesn’t just put his hands in his pockets and fund the dream.
It is one of the few things I don’t criticise him for.
There are other Celtic fans who dream of the EPL, and think that if only we got there we might wind up with the kind of owners who have poured their money into clubs down there over the years, the clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City, Newcastle and others.
I have never wanted that.
If you need a lesson in how that could well turn out look at the current state of United and understand; in the right or wrong circumstances, that could happen to us. I think it’s unlikely to happen whilst we’re in Scotland, but if we were an EPL club there are very many out there who would think we were an excellent investment.
And that’s the word here. An investment.
Not a vehicle for winning football matches but something to sit on a balance sheet. An asset.
Everything that is happening to United right now is happening because the Glazers see them as a Shiny Thing to own, a guaranteed cash machine, instead of a football club that has to at least pretend to aspire after success.
The Manchester United fans who go every week are enraged.
Of course they are.
But their rage is formless, with the substance of air.
The Glazers barely even bother to turn up at games. They operate the club by remote control, through proxies and placemen. Fans continue to buy season tickets in spite of their opposition, and so on it goes.
The thing is, even if they stopped tomorrow there is some question as to whether or not it would do any good.
Manchester United’s revenues are so vast that season ticket sales would barely be missed if the ground sat empty every week. Their global fan-base would continue to spend huge sums on merchandise.
Their marketing team would barely miss a beat.
I don’t like Dermot Desmond running this club. I don’t like the idea that we have, once again, become a play thing for old white men and their offspring, and so I would rather that when he decides he no longer wants to interfere in every decision this club makes that he did not hand it over to his son. I am seriously opposed to that taking place.
But I realise that there are worse things he could do.
I realise there are worse people he can pass our club to.
Some of our fans worry that we will end up with a takeover that leaves us in the hands of a hedge fund or something worse … and they are right to be.
Ibrox is far more likely to end up in the hands of one of those than we are, and it’s because Desmond and his people essentially want to keep it in the family.
The only true way to be sure though is to have the club primarily owned by we, the fans.
That’s what we should be shooting for eventually.
Anything else leaves that other dark possibility on the table, and we only need to look at the club which was once the biggest in the world, now a pale shadow of that, because of a take-over a decade ago which has brought them nothing but grief to see it.