Fans of Manchester United seem to be exasperated with the club’s owners, the Glazer family, and Ed Woodward, the beleaguered executive vice-chairman. So much so that they’re planning to take their displeasure to the skies next weekend when United play at Burnley.
Supporters on the Red Issue forum have had a whip-round and are funding a banner to fly over Turf Moor with ‘ED OUT – LUHG’ emblazoned across it (LUHG stands for ‘Love United Hate Glazer’) in protest at the inaction of Woodward and the American owners who employ him.
But is a plane banner really a worthwhile use of everyone’s time, energy and money? To be honest, no. As a Sunderland fan, I’ve seen a section of our support engage in an ongoing banner-based war of flying words with Newcastle United’s fans over the past few years and it achieves nothing.
The Glazers don’t go to Manchester United matches so it’d make more sense to fly words of protest over their homes in the US, and Woodward is hardly likely to quit his highly-paid job because a bunch of blokes are waving a piece of painted cloth around a couple of hundred feet above his head.
Ultimately, it is unlikely to make fans feel better about their plight and will make everyone feel a little bit more glum, which is something no one wants from a supposed show of strong feeling.
Let’s have a look at where the planned flyover ranks in some of the more noteworthy fan protests of recent years…
NEWCASTLE FANS SHOUT AT A SHOP
A very recent howl of despair and slightly more imaginative than a plane banner, while also being cheaper into the bargain. Cheapness being fitting as the Toon Army were kicking off against the miserly reign of club owner Mike Ashley, displaying their disgruntlement at his lack of player investment by congregating outside his sports shop in the city centre.
Not surprisingly, Ashley himself wasn’t there, but the staff members who might have been distressed by the unwelcome attention from a mob of raging Geordies were given some chocolate bars as a pre-emptive apology and declaration of goodwill.
SATISFACTION FACTOR: 62%
TOY PIGS GALORE
It’s rare to see a joint protest from two miffed sets of fans at once, but Charlton and Coventry’s supporters came together beautifully in October 2016 at The Valley, kicking off against sub-par owners Roland Duchâtelet and Sisu (a hedge fund company) respectively.
A momentous occasion such as this required a momentous gesture, and the fans duly delivered, hurling hundreds of small plastic pigs on to the pitch a few minutes after kick off.
Memorable if nothing else.
SATISFACTION FACTOR: 93%
TENNIS BALLS FROM HULL TO FRANKFURT
In the wake of the toy pigs protest, chucking stuff on to the pitch to hold up a match has become more popular.
In 2017, Eintracht Frankfurt fans decided en masse to hurl a load of tennis balls on to the pitch during their sides’ match with Leipzig. Good thinking – balls are easier to obtain than plastic pigs and they probably go further as well. The reason for the protest? The introduction of five Monday night fixtures to the Bundesliga – you know, like we’ve had in England for a quarter of a century. That’s cultural differences for you.
Fast forward to Humberside earlier this year and it was tennis balls again for Hull fans who are enraged by the activities of owners Assem and Ehab Allem, bringing a televised match to a standstill (on a Friday, not a Monday).
SATISFACTION FACTOR: 77%
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. RB Leipzig has been delayed after fans threw hundreds of tennis balls onto the field in protest against the game being played on a Monday night 🎾 pic.twitter.com/pgIQyYPbqz
— B/R Football (@brfootball) February 19, 2018
SPORTING LISBON FANS GET VIOLENT
There’s a disturbing history of disgruntled supporters turning up and doling out physical retribution, the most recent high-profile incident occurring in May of this year, when hood-wearing Sporting Lisbon fans stormed the club’s training ground armed with sticks and belts.
The reason? Their team had missed out on Champions League qualification in the final match of the season while earlier going out of the Europa League in the quarter-final.
Now if it was Arsenal, you’d expect nothing stronger than a few strongly-worded YouTube rants on their Fan TV, but they seemingly do things differently in Portugal.
In what was a totally unacceptable turn of events, striker Bas Dost was left with cuts to his head after the attack. Sporting? Hardly.
SATISFACTION FACTOR: 1%