Further fan protests are expected before the end of the season but Football Supporters’ Association chairman Malcolm Clarke insists consultation over regulation of club ownership is crucial.
Clarke was speaking after Manchester United ’s Premier League clash at home to Liverpool was postponed by the Premier League following mass protests from the home side’s fans over the Glazer’s ownership of their club.
With the teams unable to leave their hotels and travel to the stadium, coupled with fans gaining access to the Old Trafford pitch, the decision was made to call off the game.
Clarke has now claimed that more fan protests are inevitable – both at United and other clubs in the Premier League’s so-called ‘big six’, who were among the founding members of the Super League, before later withdrawing from the proposals following huge fan backlash.
However, he clarified that the FSA is focusing on providing information to an investigation into the governance of football, which is being overseen by former sports minister Tracey Crouch, as confirmed last month by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Clarke told the PA news agency: “Obviously it demonstrates the strength of feeling of the Manchester United supporters over what has happened in the last couple of weeks and wider what many of them feel about their owners, the Glazer family.
“The vast majority of people there yesterday 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 is 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.”
Clarke reiterated the significance of fan involvement in football being elevated to the top of the political agenda in the UK, with the breakaway Super League plans acting as the catalyst.
Clarke added: “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.
“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’.”