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FOOTBALL Supporters’ Association (FSA) chairman Malcolm Clarke expects further fan protests before the end of the season but believes real progress will be made through consultation over proper regulation of club ownership.
A demonstration by Manchester United fans caused the postponement of their Premier League match at home to Liverpool on Sunday, with a number of individuals breaking into the ground in the hours before the scheduled kick-off.
Clarke said the majority of law-abiding protesters were well within their rights to voice collective opposition to the club’s owners the Glazer family and their involvement in the “big six” clubs’ aborted plans for a European Super League and did not rule out the likelihood of further demonstrations, not only at Old Trafford but at other clubs.
However, the FSA is concentrating on providing evidence to the investigation into the governance of football being carried out by former sports minister Tracey Crouch, which was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month.
“Obviously it demonstrates the strength of feeling of the Manchester United supporters over what has happened in the last couple of weeks and [more widely] what many of them feel about their owners, the Glazer family,” he said.
“The vast majority of people there yesterday [Sunday] were peacefully protesting, but as inevitably happens on these occasions the focus gets directed towards the small number who cross the line.
“I think we may see more protests. If fans want to make a protest at their last home games of the season I think that’s absolutely fine.
“We expect everyone to keep within the law so they can make their feelings felt that way, but we will be working with supporters organisations at all the clubs — including the rebel six — to ensure the evidence we give to Tracey Crouch is robust, well thought out and can produce some real solutions.”
The breakaway Super League plan involving United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham collapsed under the weight of opposition from supporters and football in general.
Clarke, however, thanked the clubs involved for propelling the debate of governance and fan involvement to the top of the political agenda.
“I think the significant thing which has happened in the last couple of weeks is the government has launched its fan-led review of the governance and regulation of football,” he added.
“It was in their manifesto but we were worried they hadn’t done anything about it.
“So in that sense we are very grateful to the rebel six as they have put this issue at the top of the Prime Minister’s agenda, got the government to launch the review and this is the mechanism we hope will achieve real change.
“I am delighted with what they tried to do because the voice of the fans stopped them doing it, but it plunged all the key issues right to the top of the political agenda, so my first reaction is ‘Thanks very much guys, you’ve achieved more in two weeks than I’ve tried to do in two decades’.”
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