I am reading Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums. On page 25, there is a reference to Ezra Pound being a pretentious nut. Pretentious nut. How simple, but yet what a description in two words. I was itching to use the two-word combination on someone. And like it was Godsend, someone wrote this article, about Man United selling their stadiums and not their souls. Oh my, what a pretentious nut.
We have enough of propagandistic garbage being belched out through all possible sorts of mediums, and hence I am not going link the said article here. I’ll save you a migraine.
Reading that article is walking through a turnstile, on which someone as some cheap sadistic joke has smeared some turd. No I don’t get the joke. I know it must have been just a little bit. The white linen shirt specifically picked for the summer has a wet patch where you have tried to get rid of it. But you can still somehow feel it. Smell it.
Let’s get onto my reply. A simple one at that. Man United is only about selling souls. And playing good football. The owners, the Glazers, bought the club as a purely gain-on-capital exercise. A club purely bought on debt at a time when the banks were a bit too full of themselves. And it is not a coincidence how much of the profits Man United makes get credited to some account to chalk of an interest owed figure. To reduce debt. Get the Glazers drunk and ask them a million times what would they like to see, an increase in value or more titles (assuming the answers are mutually exclusive) and they will answer the same one million times. The whole floatation of the club is a good validation point in hand. After a tactical thought PR (I am sure skewed analysis, Marketing Research will tell how you can make things sound better by changing degrees of probability) on the number of fans of the club, Man United was floated in the NYSE. They took a cool 75 million queen papers home. In fact since they have taken over Man United, they have taken away 520 million quid. I repeat 520 million. Quid. 38 million for themselves through their companies as consulting fees and as dividend. They wanted 20 dollars a share. It’s trading somewhere around 12 and a half last time I checked. I’ve read valuation reports of the shares actually being worth 5 bucks, and the legends of underwriters buying a lot of shares to keep the stock price stable. Stable at a value much below their expectation.
If the Glazers want any titles, it is only because it will affect the valuation of the club. More pockets for more money in their greed pants.
Oh wait, wasn’t that article about the players, who were dying to play for United then and not for the money? This is where it gets really ugly. The whiff holds on to a small-scale whirlwind around you. The biggest wage raising farce was played out in the Premier League, a couple of seasons back. It involved a player named Wayne Rooney, who as it stands is the highest paid footballer in the Premier League. That player plays for Manchester United. He won the Premier League for Man United. No but that wasn’t selling souls. That was value for money. Somehow Nasri, and Silva, and Aguero doing that to win a title for lesser pay is selling souls. No I’m still not giving you a link to that article.
Any fan with an iota of grey matter will tell you he rather prefers an owner shelling out 500 million quid from his own pocket than depositing it into his own account. Because an owner like that wants success. At any price. Not as a side dish. Anyone would prefer that owner to another that looks at Old Trafford as 76,000 seat cash register.
Manchester United sold the club a few years back to the devil. And the devil doesn’t sell anything to anyone else. But only a person shrouded in his own idiocy wouldn’t be able to see that. A person that possibly wouldn’t wear the gold and green and protest the very Directors-Box-sitting disaster the Manchester United Supporters Trust are fighting against.
So that has been established, let us move on to the next part of the article. How did Man United reach the fan following that they have? Every time I meet a citizen of Her Majesty’s Isles, the follow up question from me after where they hail from, is who do you support. And it always surprises them, that a person, displaced far away from the grounds that the games are played, can show such a level of interest. Traditionally, one supported the local club. Or the club closest to home. But then how can a club have so many fans, if they have no local allegiance to it?
Because, of an invention called the T.V. When satellite T.V. was exploding onto the scene, being connected via coaxial to television sets in every villa, condo and shack across the world, there was one team that was playing good football. One team winning titles. One team with some incredible talent. So irrespective of what history, titles, style of play other teams could boast in their past, there was one team making it at that crucial juncture. Manchester United. If Manchester United has anyone to thank, it has to be the Premier League. For their marketing genius in making the Premier League the most watched football league in the world. From Irish pubs at noon in New York, to households in Thailand, to pubs early at dawn in Sydney. As a fan, now finally able to watch said magicians on a T.V. screen, it’s always easy to know whom you are going to root for. The winner. Because usually the winner also plays beautiful football. When that tribal instinct kicks in, so that you can belong as a part to some subgroup that is victorious, where you can parade that victory in front of someone who can’t, you’ll mostly choose the winner. Or you’d have to be a sentimental-underdog-lover like me. That’s why Swansea could play good football but their match was always going to be telecast deferred.
The only reason people chose other clubs was because of some players they had an affinity for. Like a friend who supported every club Javier Saviola went to. Or Ibrahamovic goes to. Or a player that kicked up a nationalistic pride because they shared the same national symbol as your passport cover. Or maybe the guy that you hated already that supported Man United before you could.
The Premier League was so adept in marketing English football (the general quality of teams in the Premier League helped in that regard) that even when Real Madrid were adding to their record number of European titles, it made no difference, until of late.
How does that make a difference? It does, the more eyeballs on a jersey, the more sponsors are willing to pay. And thanks to Sir Alex, there were more titles and finals than any other club for the Red Devils. And there were more eyeballs being added, more jerseys being bought and more gold coins falling into the coffers, which had more players coming in, more titles being won, more eyeballs being added, more gold coins falling in until it has reached the point where it has. You get the flow. Manchester United has the biggest fan following in the world. You can’t gloat on the numbers and say you have the greatest club or supporters though. I remember being part of a discussion between two Serbians. Both supported opposing teams, one of them more successful than the other. They argued. But yet the lesser successful supporter said his was a better club. Why, I asked. He said because they don’t stop singing. They never sit down. The electricity is abuzz to light a thousand cities. They make up songs as events unfold. Then they go back home having lost their voices. So what is really ‘better’ co-related to? Aren’t there more things than profits and a general definition of fans? Youtube Corinthian supporters in a stadium. If Old Trafford was the Theatre Of Dreams, the Pacaembu is the IMAX of Hope.
There just seems one more point to be addressed. The player’s souls themselves. Players who sign up for United knows, that if they can’t check out now with tons of money, Man United is exactly the place provided one has the talent, you can eventually check out. (Let’s not get into the debate of stars that have not moved for greener pastures, every club has their own share of them, maybe just less successful) Thats what Ronaldo did. Thats what Pogba did. That’s what Beckham eventually did.
So the souls have all been sold. No matter what glasses you have put on, and how you wish to see it. But please, that guy that wrote the article, just don’t invade my space with your turd. Because it sure as hell stinks. And then I’ll have to retch. About the devil on the throne that you can’t see. Right now, I’m trying to guess which stand you’re in and can’t remember The Idiot Stand being part of Old Trafford. But sure as hell there are other vociferous stands that make Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams.