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Last Updated: Friday, 1 July, 2005, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Peace must break out at Man Utd
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

GLAZERS' UK VISIT
Avi and Joel Glazer
Wednesday, London: Meet FA, Premier League, Sports Minister
Wednesday, Manchester: Reach Old Trafford for first time - dodge protesting fans
Thursday: Spend the day with United officials
Friday: First interview to be broadcast by MUTV
Manchester United's new owners made friends and influenced people as they exerted their first public show of power since taking control at Old Trafford.

Joel, Avi and Bryan Glazer had a first-hand look at what their father Malcolm's 790m had bought him as they toured "The Theatre of Dreams."

They won over arguably Manchester United's most iconic figure, Sir Bobby Charlton and were pictured alongside a smiling Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Glazers looked at home with United's previous power brokers.

The brothers, however, also sampled the anger and passion their buy-out has provoked among sections of United's massive support.

They had to leave their new footballing home in police vans as officers in riot gear mobilised against 300 protesters.

It was the climax of weeks of unrest - unrest that ended in the almost unprecedented sight of that most protective of Old Trafford legends Charlton apologising for the behaviour of supporters and chief executive David Gill in equally critical mood.

The anti-Glazer protesters, fearing United will be taken away from the supporters and weighed down under heavy debts, have every right to voice their fears.

Those who deliver the message eloquently deserve to be heard and respected.

But those who chant "Die Glazer Die" and clash with police?

They have made their point forcibly and passionately - but their cause is harmed by the scenes witnessed at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

And the brutal truth is that this protest has probably now gone as far as it can without causing damage to the image of Manchester United.

The protestors say they will not go away - but neither is a man who has put together a 790m package to buy the club.

Glazer's family emissaries will no doubt report back on what they saw, but their father is highly unlikely to weaken on the basis of these protests.

He is more likely to be heartened by the news that men such as Charlton, Ferguson and Gill now appear to be very much onside as a result of their talks with his sons.

And similar positive messages have emerged from inside the Football Association.

Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson has now met his new bosses

So now it is surely time for the protesters to actually see the Glazers in action.

See their plans unfold. See if they turn Manchester United into even more of a cash cow than it already is. See if their arrival means a reduction in ambition.

And see if a twisted logic applies whereby a man pays almost 800m for a product with the express intention of making it unsuccessful.

If any of the above apply, then Manchester United's fans have every right to peaceful protest.

Until then, all those in power should be allowed to get on with the only thing that actually matters to 99% of all football fans.

Namely producing an environment conducive to winning football matches.

The true acid test will come once the season starts - especially if the head of the all-powerful Glazer clan decides to visit Old Trafford.

But the Glazers have publicly stated that United will be as competitive as ever in the transfer market, will not be party to excessive price rises and will respect OId Trafford's traditions.

Is it such a sin to take them at their word until they demonstrate otherwise?

Until they stray from their public message, surely it is time for peace to break out and prevent a potentially damaging split with a section of the club's followers?

And the romantic notion of United as an all-embracing club of the people is based on shifting sands at best.

Their greatest successes came after they opened themselves up to market forces by going public.

And the "not for sale" cry has a somewhat hollow ring at this mega-rich and mega-marketable club.

The concerns of supporters are justified, but now it is time to actually see the Glazers in action as opposed to protesting against what fans fear might happen.

Glazer has been portrayed as a bizarre, reclusive character almost intent on doing damage to Manchester United.

No-one professes to seriously know what Glazer's true motives are - but suggesting he will risk so much to simply run the club into the ground will not be one of them.

The proof will come in subsequent weeks. Until then it is time for a truce to be declared.




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