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Manchester United fans have announced plans to boycott companies who sponsor the club amid growing hostility towards the owners, the Glazer family.
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Protests at Old Trafford on Sunday forced the postponement of United’s Premier League clash with Liverpool after some supporters broke into the stadium and demonstrated on the pitch.
The team coach was also trapped at the Lowry Hotel after fans blocked surrounding roads. United fans are calling for a change of ownership and in an open letter to sponsors branded any commercial partner a “legitimate target” as they look to force the Glazer family, who acquired the club in a leveraged buy-out in 2005, to sell following their attempts to join the now defunct European Super League.
The open letter issued on Tuesday read: “Sixteen years ago Manchester United Football Club was debt-free. Today since the leveraged buy-out by the Glazer family £1.5bn has been removed from the club through dividend payments and share sales, with £840m of that servicing debt.
“As commercial partners of the Glazer family you are legitimate targets of the global fanbase because the combined £279m per annum you pay will not go towards investment in the squad to compete with the best clubs that United now trail. It will not go towards refurbishing Old Trafford or training facilities, both now so outdated that they have become a symbol for Glazer disinterest.
“Your sponsorship money will be used for debt servicing and dividends. Supporting the Glazers does not support the club. It sustains a parasitical relationship.”
United currently have 23 global sponsors including Chevrolet, Adidas, DHL and Marriott Hotels as well as a number of regional agreements across the world They announced in March that technology company TeamViewer will replace Chevrolet as the principal shirt sponsor in a five-year deal worth an estimated £235 million.
The letter to companies continued: “Manchester United fans will boycott your products, seek to tarnish your brands and support your competitors until you terminate your commercial partnership with the Glazer family.
“The global Manchester United fanbase is passionate but loyal. We [need] sponsors to realise that partnering with the failed Glazer ownership undermines ‘association with success’ and [if they] were to leave, then we’re sure United fans would once again embrace these companies for standing up for the values of the football club.”
Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police have announced a man has been charged with throwing fireworks in a street, use of threatening behaviour and wilful obstruction of the highway in relation to the protests at the Lowry Hotel on Sunday. Investigations into the demonstrations at the Lowry and Old Trafford are ongoing with police now claiming 12 officers were injured during clashes with fans.