United fans group threaten boycott
A leading Manchester United fans group has called for a boycott of the club's expanding portfolio of sponsors in protest at the planned New York flotation.
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A statement from Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) read: "The Manchester United Supporters Trust has called for a worldwide boycott of Manchester United sponsors' products, with support across the UK, Europe, Asia and the US.
"The boycott strategy is intended to send a loud and clear message to the Glazer family and club sponsors that, without the support and purchasing power of the fans, the global strength of the Manchester United brand doesn't actually exist."
MUST have tried such tactics before during the Glazer regime, although it has not prevented the Red Devils' territory-specific approach allowing them to become the first club to smash through the annual £100million barrier for commercial revenue alone.
However, while they do not believe the planned IPO - which manager Sir Alex Ferguson on Thursday denied he would personally profit from - will be good for either the club or the investors, MUST do believe action is required.
"The Glazer family sell the rights to our loyalty and devotion for the club to sponsors for many millions but then use that money to pay off their self imposed debt," MUST chief executive Duncan Drasdo said. "It has to stop.
"We want the IPO shelved and a proper fan ownership model put in place - one share, one vote."
Although the IPO has been planned for some time, the Glazer family originally claimed all the proceeds would go towards United's massive debt, which presently stands at £423million.
It now transpires this is not the case and only around £75million will go towards the debt, with an equal amount being kept by the family themselves.
That has triggered MUST - who masterminded the memorable green and gold campaign - into action.
"Our actions are no different to the marketing tactics used by all the clubs sponsors - we're just executing it in another way," Drasdo said.
"Their efforts are mostly about brand switching and ours are too - we're just saying more overtly - don't use those sponsors products - and the sample of fans we've spoken to around the world believe this is the right approach.
"Even without this approach, allowing the Glazers to continue running the club unchecked is bad news for sponsors.
"Less funds for the club (because of servicing current debt levels) means less investment in the team and that could impact on sponsors being associated with a winning, successful team."