Manchester United co-chairman and part-owner Joel Glazer has issued an apology to fans for the “unrest” caused by their European Super League misadventure.
United were one of 12 founding clubs for the closed-shop competition announced on Sunday, but more than that they had frequently been cited as among the biggest pushers for a new tournament to rival UEFA’s Champions League.
Super League involvement would have seen United – along with the other founder clubs – guaranteed participation every year, thus threatening the ideals of competitiveness and sporting merit.
Much of the significant backlash, which United players Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw were a part of, related to this lack of competition, with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola suggesting it could not be considered sport.
But less than 48 hours after the plans were announced, the proposed tournament began to crumble as the English clubs withdrew – United confirmed their disassociation at the same time as Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham, with City doing so earlier in the day and Chelsea following.
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward also confirmed his resignation, which the club claimed was unrelated to the defeat of the Super League plans.
Criticism was directed at United for their brief statement upon withdrawal as well, though Glazer – co-owner with his brother Avram – says he is “committed to rebuilding trust” in a lengthier open letter.
United supporters will surely argue there was never trust in the deeply unpopular Glazers in the first place, with the letter representing the family’s first communication with the fanbase since 2005.
An open letter from Joel Glazer to all Manchester United fans.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 21, 2021
It read: “To all Manchester United supporters, over the past few days we have all witnessed the great passion which football generates, and the deep loyalty our fans have for this great club.
“You made very clear your opposition to the European Super League, and we have listened. We got it wrong, and we want to show that we can put things right.
“Although the wounds are raw and I understand that it will take time for the scars to heal, I am personally committed to rebuilding trust with our fans and learning from the message you delivered with such conviction.
“We continue to believe that European football needs to become more sustainable throughout the pyramid for the long-term. However, we fully accept that the Super League was not the right way to go about it.
“In seeking to create a more stable foundation for the game, we failed to show enough respect for its deep-rooted traditions – promotion, relegation, the pyramid – and for that we are sorry.
“This is the world’s greatest football club and we apologise unreservedly for the unrest caused during these past few days. It is important for us to put that right.
“Manchester United has a rich heritage and we recognise our responsibility to live up to its great traditions and values. The pandemic has thrown up so many unique challenges and we are proud of the way Manchester United and its fans from Manchester and around the world have reacted to the enormous pressures during this period.
“We also realise that we need to better communicate with you, our fans, because you will always be at the heart of the club. In the background, you can be sure that we will be taking the necessary steps to rebuild relationships with other stakeholders across the game, with a view to working together on solutions to the long-term challenges facing the football pyramid.
“Right now, our priority is to continue to support all of our teams as they push for the strongest possible finish to the season. In closing, I would like to recognise that it is your support which makes this club so great, and we thank you for that. With best regards, Joel Glazer.”
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