Published: Aug 8th 1999
MONEY - FOOTBALL - THE FUTURE
- The Devil May Care -
It's the day before our start of the season and seemingly an awful long
time since that momentous day in Barcelona when all my dreams came true as
Ole put the ball in the Germans' net.
Since then our close season has been a mess of pay negotiations, an FA Cup
withdrawl, a higher than high profile wedding, a merchandising tour half
way around the world and that book. Close season - what close season.
Hardly a time to relax and enjoy the reflected glory of the treble
achievement and so it rumbles on and on and on and on.
I have just read the short article from Fergie's book which was posted to
the list about the pay negotiations between himself and Martin Edwards and
whereas I cannot say I'm surprised at the news, I am still astonished that
Edwards has treated Fergie with such contempt.
It is plainly obvious to me and surely to most others, that the success of
Manchester United is down primarily to the skills of one man and that man
is Alex Ferguson. And as Jon Leigh has already said, "the business has
succeeded despite Martin Edwards and not because of him".
To have treated the man who has done more than any one person since Sir
Matt in such an outrageously disrespectful manner is reprehensible and I'm
surprised Fergie didn't walk away. But there again he is obviously
afflicted by the same virus we all are and that is a love for Manchester
United. That is also despite Edwards and not because of him.
But what Edwards doesn't understand and never will is that Manchester
United are bigger than anyone including Alex Ferguson, but more
importantly, bigger than Martin Edwards.
The article about pay negotiations must surely now be incontravertable
proof that Martin Edwards is not fit to be the figurehead of our club and
must be ousted at all cost and a successor found who actually does care
about the club. It doesn't bode well for the Keano negotiations as he too
will be held to ransom. It doesn't bode well for any other transfers either
and it must surely be agreed that just as Liverpool did in their most
successful reign two decades ago - you build from strength. Not in Martin
Edwards opinion obviously.
Edwards and the plc have not allowed that to happen and by all accounts are
not likely to. This is a worrying aspect to all business in the nineties -
short term gain, not long term planning for the future. In other words make
your money and get out. Bleed the bastards dry the punters don't matter,
they're drugged with blind devotion and unswerving allegiance - the
ultimate captive audience.
I suppose we all knew this book of Fergies would be open and frank but
until it is in front of us in black and white we believe what we want to
believe. Now of course, as long as you trust Fergie's words and I presume,
like me, you do, you have got to be very concerned for the future of our
The attitude of Edwards and his like aresucking the lifeblood from our
bodies and creaming the game and by reference that means they are creaming
from us. We are paying for them to ruin our game. We are paying for them to
ruin everything Fergie has built up over the last decade - and believe me,
if nothing is done, they most certainly will ruin it.
Martin Edward's great maxim is merchandise and more merchandise - sell to
the masses and as far away from the birthplace of the club as possible so
that the "brand" be made ever more powerful. Of course what Martin has
conveniently ignored or is just too blind or prejudiced to see is that the
"brand" depends on a successful team. A successful team depends on great
management and great players. You either show them the respect they deserve
or risk them moving on to where they will be shown that respect.
And what happens then you shrewd business man you? well I'll tell you, if
you can be bothered to listen - the team doesn't perform so well because
their greatest assets have left or maybe their moral has been dented by
money and "brand" matters off the pitch and your all pervading "brand" is
no longer the all conquering omnipotent icon it once was and suddenly the
great empire tumbles. total disillusionment and a destroyed hardcore
It's already happening.
No doubt by then you will have made countless millions to boost your
already countless millions and will have taken retirement and just like
Dogleash left Liverpool - you will leave Manchester United in a huge mess
of debt with countless useless merchandising outlets in every corner of the
globe and a playing staff grossly under par for a club of United's standing
In an interview on television this morning Fergie said that he would love
to be involved in Manchester United in some advisory capacity when his
present, and last contract ends when he reaches 60. But if his book is
anything to go by there is no chance of that while Edwards is in charge.
A fear of the Busby phenomenon - my arse! It would be like me saying to my
dad "I know you have 50 years of business knowledge, but sorry dad I don't
want to know!" It would surely be absolutely ludicrous to allow a man of
Ferguson's skill and knowledge to leave the club. And I suspect the
reasoning behind this is that Edwards worries about Fergie. I'm sure they
don't see eye to eye - how could they. And Edwards would be glad to see the
back of the antagonistic Scotsman - he wants him out of his empire.
And that is the crux of it - Edwards sees Manchester United as his and his
alone. He believes the success is due to him. Sad disillusioned
megalomaniac - but a very dangerous man nevertheless.
To illustrate this point even further it just so happened that the IMUSA
newsletter dropped through my letterbox this morning. And before some of
you think this is a propaganda piece by a bunch of reactionaries please
think about it logically. I'm not going to type out the whole of this
particular article - a couple of paragraphs will suffice:
"The Truth - Edwards and the FA Cup"
............."Alex Ferguson does not want to go to Brazil; he has said so
both before and after Barcelona. The idea of playing in a tournament in the
heat and humidity of a Brazilian summer could end up ruining the rest of
the domestic and European programme. Forget the number of games that have
to be rearranged, immediately on returning from Brazil we are due to be
Behind Ferguson's back, whilst he was on holiday, Edwards met with the
Government and FA representatives and at a meeting on 15th June demanded
that United be exempted from this season's FA Cup as the price for going to
Davis and Banks have said it was United's decision but only after they both
declared that refusing to go to Brazil would 'do irreparable damage' to the
2006 World Cup bid. Edwards should and could have turned down the
opportunity in line with Ferguson's wishes but he and Roland Smith had
decided that the potential worldwide audience would give them an ideal
opportunity to 'expand the brand'. The FA, blinded by the slim hope of the
World Cup nomination, and with scant regard for the integrity of the
domestic game agreed to the demand."
So there you have it folks - another example of Mr Manchester United,
Martin Edwards putting money before the team that represents the club.
Putting money before the fans who support the club and before the oldest
competition in the football world. Contempt on the highest possible scale I
I cannot put my feelings into words, I am so angry, but the short sighted
nature of the man who runs our club at the moment must be realised.
If you would like to read the whole of the article and a whole lot more you
will have to apply to IMUSA and they will send you their newsletter which
comes free to members several times a year. IMUSA is an organisation of
supporters of Manchester United which fights for supporters rights - join
them and express your opinions - they are open to every point of view so
make yours known to them at PO Box 69, Stretford, Manchester M32 )UZ or
THE FUTURE IS FANPOWER
The Devil May Care - DMC