By Nick Harris
8 May 2010
The Manchester United Supporters Trust has entered a pivotal phase in its campaign to oust the clubs’ owners, the Glazer family, by asking fans for cash to bankroll MUST’s work.
An initial £5 donation has been suggested to each of the 156,000-plus people who have signed up to join MUST, the vast majority of them online in the past couple of months.
To date, fans have not been asked for money, either to pay for MUST’s campaign or to add to the coffers of a possible bid led by the Red Knights consortium of super-rich supporters. Asking for cash now is the acid test of the feasibility of a fan-led buyout. If fans respond positively en masse, it will provide hard evidence of tangible support: people putting their hands in their pockets, not just signing up for free to an email list.
With fresh funds (more than £750,000 would be raised if every MUST member gave a fiver), the campaign would have no trouble paying its way into the summer and beyond. A big windfall might also add credence to MUST’s belief that a large number of people don’t just passively support a fan-led takeover, but will invest bigger sums later to help pay for it.
MUST’s chief executive, Duncan Drasdo, acknowledges the significance of the request for money in an email sent out this weekend to MUST’s members. “It’s all been leading up to this moment [of asking for money],” he writes. “We need to make sure that we have a campaign war chest deep enough to make sure we don’t miss our opportunity to take back our club.”
An email earlier this week to MUST members said “the bid from the Red Knights could come before the World Cup kicks off on 11 June.”
The new email says: “For too long, we’ve had to watch the Glazers drain United’s financial future away. They’ve tried to make us feel powerless by pretending to ignore us. They’ve sent their security to try to shut us up.
“But they’ve failed. Once again, the Green & Gold will be flooding Old Trafford this weekend against Stoke. On Sunday, we’ll be 100 per cent behind our team. We’ll be willing them on until the final whistle.
“Then we’ll be making sure that the next season starts without the Glazers in Old Trafford.
“We need to make sure that we have the funds in place to finish this strong. We’re going to need major funds to take the campaign through to June. Please chip in £5 or whatever you can afford now to help out.”
MUST’s support in terms of sign-ups surged from around 30,000 to 150,000 within a few days in March. Sign-ups have slowed markedly in the six weeks since then, and at 2pm today, had nudged past 156,260.