3. Collaboration with rival fan groups and the Spirit of Shankly joint statement[£30 away ticket price cap was a result of collaboration with rival fan groups and saves our fans well over £1 million every season]
We've seen some misrepresentation of the joint statement on football club ownership and regulation which we sent to press so we felt it was worthwhile correcting some of the misunderstandings, as well as what sadly appears to be wilful misrepresentation. This has even resulted in three (Lite) members asking to cancel their membership! Of course it is a shame they have done this based on a misunderstanding so we wanted to ensure that false perception was corrected. Also we explain how we work with rival fan groups and the benefits of doing so.
Firstly we are not "in bed with" or forming any alliance with Spirit of Shankly, or indeed any fan group of any other club. When we say "join forces" it is a figure of speech to get traction - of course we don't mean it literally. We are fiercely independent. What we did was to issue a one-off media statement and letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport because the pros of doing so outweighed the cons. The reason we did this is that we are at a crucial moment with our club up for sale and the Government considering legislation on football ownership and regulation at precisely this time. Given both clubs are similarly up for sale, and the infamous rivalry between the two clubs, the media were sure to amplify such a joint statement and thus help to get this issue onto the radar of the Government. We've learnt over the years that Government won't intervene over the issues of a single club but when the two biggest both raise the same issue jointly we get their attention. There is no doubt we have done that, having established a dialogue with DCMS officials on this subject, and we will be following up with a further communications. The simple fact is that the ownership of our club is more important to us than a popularity contest with any other fan group. We make no apology for doing what we believe is in the best interests of our club.
We have collaborated with Premier League Trusts and other fan groups through The FSA to great effect over the years. It has zero impact on the fan to fan rivalry but where working together is in the best interests of Manchester United and our supporters we will always do that (so you don't have to!). Some of the wins this collaboration has delivered in recent times include protection of away allocations, the £30 cap on away tickets (saving our away support well over £1 million per season), coming together to halt the Super League (ESL) in it's tracks (and let's face it the Glazers would not be looking to sell now if the ESL had gone ahead) and, after many years of lobbying, the introduction of safe standing (where we worked with the club to ensure we were one of the early pilots). Our joint campaigning for legislation on club ownership and regulation to protect clubs and fans, most recently via the Fan-Led Review (FLR). We were given a direct audience with Tracey Crouch’s Fan Led Review Panel where we highlighted the issues raised by the Glazer’s ownership. The FLR is about to result in a new independent regulator for football and a strengthened Owners and Directors test. Our joint approach to Government with SoS is seeking to ensure that the potential early sale of our clubs are bound by those changes so this was a matter of urgency. Collaboration is essential to maximise influence on these sort of issues and allowing rivalry to get in the way of that would completely undermine those efforts.
All of our surveys tell us that our fans want us to speak to the club on issues that affect our supporters and to work with groups from other clubs where it is in the best interests of Manchester United and our fans. Our recent letter to bidders shows there is a huge groundswell of support for our objective of working towards the best ownership possible for Manchester United. As well as the thousands of individual fans (see survey item below) who have responded to the survey on this we have broad support across fanzines and 133 (and counting) official Manchester United Supporters Club branches plus other fans groups who have added their name to the ownership principles outlined in that letter.
So while some will try to misrepresent our actions, or cast aspersions on our intentions, we know that the vast majority of fans understand what we are trying to achieve and share our objectives. So if you see anyone misrepresenting our actions or motives please consider what their own motives are in doing so.