THERE was almost an air of resignation about David Gill’s comments in today’s Guardian about the attack on his home by vandals.
The Manchester United chief executive’s house was daubed with several slogans – including ‘Judas Gill’ – by fans protesting about his alliance with the Glazer family.
It was followed by an attack on the Manchester offices of club sponsor AIG on Monday night, thought to have been sparked by fans angry at the inclusion of the company’s logo on a large banner of the Busby Babes erected outside Old Trafford to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.
“I’ve been clear all along that there will always be people who are opposed to the takeover of the club,” Gill said.
“They will never change. They have been consistent in their views and concerns and will continue to express them, but it’s a question of how they express them.
“There is a way of doing things in the right manner without resorting to criminality.”
Carefully chosen words from Gill, who was initially opposed to the Glazer takeover, but has since aligned himself with the club’s owners. It is as if he is almost going out of his way not to inflame the situation.
Certainly, feelings were running high among United fans over the Busby Babes banner, which also initially included an incorrect version of the lyrics to the ‘Manchester Calypso’ chant about the Babes. (A mistake the club moved to put right when it was discovered.)
The Manchester Evening News received a number of e-mails angry about the inclusion of a sponsor’s logo on the banner. And it’s certainly hard to understand why the AIG name appears on it, given that the company was happy for their logo to be removed from United’s shirts for the game against City on February 10.
It’s a sorry story which no one comes out of with any credit. The decision to allow a sponsor’s logo on the Busby Babes banner was, at best, thoughtless; at worst, tasteless.
But those responsible for the paint attacks have just invited sympathy for the people they are supposedly protesting against.
It’s not the first time that a senior United official has been targeted in this way. Solicitor Maurice Watkins, then a United director, had his Jaguar daubed with red paint by vandals in October 2004, in an attack also thought to be connected with anti-Glazer protests.
There have been warnings of more attacks to come. Reading between the lines of Gill’s comments, it seems as if he wouldn’t be surprised if those threats were carried out.
There are United fans who will never accept the Glazer takeover. And there are United fans who look at last season’s Premier League title win, and the club’s current position domestically and in Europe, and are quite happy with their lot – especially when they look at the mess developing under American ownership at Liverpool.
“They will always have their views and be very dogmatic about it,” Gill said of the anti-Glazer protestors. “We’re not going to prove these people wrong because they will always believe they are right.”
And those responsible for the latest attacks will continue to believe they are right. It’s not going to sway many people on the middle ground to their cause, though.