In May of 2021, a group of Manchester United fans who wanted to be rid of the club’s heavily criticized owners, the Glazers, staged a protest outside of Old Trafford ahead of a visit from Liverpool. The fans were furious with the owners for a long list of reasons, not least of which was United’s involvement in the botched attempt at a breakaway European Super League.
While the protest was largely understood and even backed by many in the football world, it went further than anyone expected. Fans were able to storm into the stadium and invade the pitch just hours before United was set to kick off with Liverpool. Chaos ensued and the Premier League had no choice but to postpone the match and play it another day.
With Liverpool set to head to Old Trafford for a Monday Night Football showdown tomorrow, United fans are planning another protest of the Glazers. While their cause is still supported by many who see the toxic way the Glazers are running the club, there is concern the protests could lead to another match postponement.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp addressed this possibility in the lead-up to the match, and he believes Liverpool should be awarded the three points if it happens again.
“Do we have any plans for the game not happening? We are going home in the bus,” said Klopp. “I really hope it will not happen, but if it does happen I think we should get the points.”
Klopp’s reasoning for this is simple: United are responsible for their fans. If they can’t keep control of them to prevent a match postponement, then forfeiture of the match should be the consequence of that failure. Liverpool should not be forced to shoehorn a rescheduled match into an already packed calendar due to these fan protests.
“We have nothing to do with the situation,” the Liverpool manager said. “If that happens and the supporters want the game to be not happening, then we cannot just rearrange the game again and fit it in somewhere at an incredibly busy time. I don’t think and I really hope this will not happen.
“I have no idea what could happen, I don’t think about it. People tell us things will be fine so we will go there, play the game hopefully and go home. But if in a situation like this, always the other team should get the points because they have nothing to do with it. They have prepared the game.”
While Klopp’s reasoning for this belief that United should have to forfeit the match if protests postpone it again is based purely on the logic that the visiting team shouldn’t be punished for this, there are other reasons that this would be the best course of action.
Primarily, it would force United’s owners to reckon with the consequences of their failing approach to running the club. Fans have grown increasingly powerless as football has become increasingly controlled by the power of money. If fan protests of the owners start resulting in lost points, which will directly translate to a loss of revenue, the Glazers may finally have to take the grievances of the club’s fans seriously.
Protests hold no power if they don’t disrupt the status quo. If matches can just be postponed and played at a later date, there is no pressure for these owners to address the fury of their fanbase. If, however, the protests start costing the club points and hurting the bottom line, they’ll have no choice but to adjust the way they run the club.
If their ownership is so toxic that fans are willing to sacrifice points to protest it, something must change. Forcing them to forfeit matches due to these protests may hurt the club in the very short term, but it has the potential to be a huge benefit to the club, and football as a whole, in the long term.