The anti-Glazer camp’s allegiance to Cloud Cuckoo Land
spiked editor Mick Hume's Notebook in The Times (London).
- I have wrestled with my conscience – and won.
My Manchester United season ticket renewal has gone in the post, rather than up in flames. Now, that’s enough screeching about Malcolm Glazer, before the eyes of the world glaze over. If you want to organise demonstrations and boycotts, burn effigies and issue death threats, there are surely other issues of real life importance to get excited about. And I don’t only mean the United-Arsenal FA Cup Final of Death tomorrow.
Two camps have emerged since the American billionaire bought United: the vociferous ‘Glazer is the Devil’ lobby, and a smaller but influential group suggesting that he might be good for the club. Following this debate is like watching Arsenal play Chelsea – there is no way I can support either side.
When the anti-Glazer camp is not indulging in ugly xenophobia about a nasty foreigner buying the club, it advertises its own patriotic allegiance to Cloud Cuckoo Land. The latest threat issued by the shady-sounding ‘MEC Red Army’ warns Mr Glazer that he must ‘deliver our club back to us, reinstate all that was before’. Which ‘before’ do they have in mind? Last week, when ‘our club’ was owned by big shareholders and run by the plc board, who never noticeably allowed our passions to get in the way of their profits? Or perhaps they fantasise about going back to the Busby era, when ‘our club’ was the private possession of Louis Edwards, a tight-fisted butcher famed for selling Manchester schools meat that made Turkey Twizzlers look like filet mignon.
Those threatening to form a breakaway club called FC United (home games to be played on the moral high ground) seem less like self-sacrificing ‘real fans’ than self-righteous prigs. These are the sort of supporters who are fond of the cliché that ‘nobody is more important than the club’. Yet now they have decided that they are, after all, and are taking their ball home in a huff.
Of course, there is no reason to embrace Mr Glazer, either. His debt-laden business plan looks about as roomy and attractive as those replica shirts do on fat fortysomething fans (now there is a worthy cause for a consumer boycott). But if financial bean-counting were the basis on which we decided our football loyalties, we would all be Chelsea supporters.
Forget this phoney fans’ war over Mr Glazer. Whatever happened to the us-and-them attitude whereby we couldn’t care less who sat in the boardroom, but reserved our love and hate for what happened on the pitch? More importantly, when did football stop being a momentary escape from real life, and turn into a substitute for it?
Too many people now seem to have a football-shaped hole in their lives, from the anti-Glazer guerrillas to the fans of relegated teams who wept on cue and on camera last weekend, and even the burglars who stopped to daub Fulham slogans inside a Chelsea player’s home this week. Individuals obsessed with football to the exclusion of all else used to be thought of as saddos. We should try to put the beautiful game back in its 18-yard box, before we turn into a sad anorak society.
Although obviously, if Mr Glazer tries to sell Wayne Rooney, the riot starts here.
- George Galloway’S bravura performance before Congress provided an entertaining contrast to the political cowardice of our age.
When the limit of most left-wing MPs’ courage is to gang up on a few foxhunters, Mr Galloway went, as he modestly put it, ‘to beard the beast in its lair’. Little wonder that Mr Galloway’s groupies in the antiwar movement are keen to release a DVD of his theatrics. ( ‘Gorgeous George Does Washington’?) However, look a little closer at his statement to that congressional committee and it appears that, for Mr Galloway, the important ‘I-word’ is not ‘Iraq’ so much as ‘I’. As in ‘I gave my heart and soul…. I gave my political life’s blood…. I told the world…. I told the world…. I told the world…. In everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right…. If the world had listened to me…we would not be in the disaster we are in today.’
According to my swift scan of the published 2,000-word transcript, Mr Galloway referred to Iraq and Iraqis 18 times, compared with 81 references to himself. A landslide for the Respect MP. He’s so vain, he thinks somebody else’s disaster is about him.
Mick Hume is editor of spiked
This article is republished from The Times (London)
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