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Seeing red over not seeing yellow and green

One may have been shocked by the predominantly red clad crowd that came out for Wednesday’s match at the Linc between our hometown Philadelphia Union and Manchester United. Even the supporter’s section had too much red in it, with one Sons of Ben member wondering where the SoB leadership was.

What’s more surprising, however, relates to what you didn’t see: the yellow and green scarves that have come, for United supporters, to signify the anti-Glazer movement. You most likely also didn’t see signs or even buttons, since all these items were deemed contraband by the security at Lincoln Financial field.

“It’s a disgrace that I can’t say what I think about the state of my team’s ownership,” said Tony Ashmore, an expat from Manchester who has been in the states for 22 years, residing in Haddonfield, NJ for the last six. His initial umbrage stems from the absurd debt that United’s American ownership continues to run up, with many fearing that a drop-off from the top four, or even top 15, isn’t that far away (remember Leeds United, anyone?), since the soaring debt will inevitably affect their ability to lure players through the transfer window.

That was compounded when he found that the Glazers’ tentacles reached 3,000 miles away across an ocean, with a staff member going so far as to call a police officer over when he and friend Brian Connell insisted on their right to state an opinion. Both he and Connell were not allowed to enter wearing anti-Glazer buttons.

Sure, there’s that blitz of legalese printed in Lilliputian font on the back of every ticket that serves to reinforce heavily the phrase “we reserve the right…”

“We were even given that business, ‘Oh, well how much were you drinking, we could turn you away for that,’ at that point. We weren’t drunk or belligerent,” Ashmore said, the incident clearly leaving him chafed. “There was no room to argue. You’re ability to argue is taken away because they’re asking you how much you’ve been drinking,” he said, rolling his eyes and looking away. “It goes to show what lengths these pieces of shit will go to protect their fortune. For them to do it at Old Trafford is one thing, but here, an ocean away…ridiculous.”

“It’s not offensive to anyone. This is America,” interjected Connell, a Dublin-raised San Diego resident who lived in Manchester for a few years. He said he could see their contention if there was an expletive on the buttons they wore. But there wasn’t. Just an unsettling opinion for an ownership group that obviously included a nasty little stipulation in the contract for United’s North American tour. “The guy [Linc staff member] apologized and said, ‘We’ve been to told to stop anyone with anti-Glazer gear.’”

While the fine print definitely favors the Lincoln Financial Field staff, you can’t blame fans for feeling as though their basic civil liberties were infringed upon. Because, legalese or not, they were.

“They did it in Toronto [Connell and Ashmore know the gentleman mentioned in a recent Philly.com piece] and I’m sure they’ll do it in Kansas and Houston [for the Allstar game]. But we doubt they’ll hassle them [the fans] in Guadalajara, the last stop on the tour,” Connell conjectured. “They won’t be told to do that because we don’t think that’s their way, but then again we thought the same thing about here.” Ouch.

Sure, there’s that blitz of legalese printed in Lilliputian font on the back of every ticket that serves to reinforce heavily the phrase “we reserve the right,” with the legal grounding resting in the fact that it’s a private versus public engagement that one is entering into, with the ticket holder being obliged to respect the stipulations of the party hosting the event.

In the case of Wednesday’s match, there was even an announcement over the PA upon entry that spoke, in ambiguous terms, about the right of staff to turn away fans with inappropriate signs or banners. In this case, that word takes on an insidious twist.

While the fine print definitely favors the Lincoln Financial Field staff, you can’t blame fans for feeling as though their basic civil liberties were infringed upon. Because, legalese or not, they were. “It’s a question of free speech,” Ashmore asserted, adding that it’s not legally enforceable, while admitting he did see a few fans who slipped through with either green and yellow scarves or some sign of discontent. Connell followed by saying, rather blithely, “the land of the free…” while shaking his head. “Not that I’m anti-American,” he said. “I just can’t believe they did that.”

The issue for stateside fans is why MLS and any of their teams would want to leave their fans with such a flat feeling.

One thing that is very understandable is Ashmore’s decision to cancel the season tickets he’s held onto long after emigrating to the U.S. “I gave them up this year, partially for personal reasons, but mostly for my hatred of the Glazers,” adding that this incident only served to greatly exacerbate his feelings surrounding the ownership and even the team he loves. “I’ve never felt flatter going into a season,” he said, his voice heavy with chagrin.

The issue for stateside fans is why MLS and any of their teams would want to leave their fans with such a flat feeling. And as for U.S.-born Manchester fans such as myself, as well as for people who grew up a short walk from The Theater of Dreams, there’s also the unsettling message coming from the Glazers saying, “Yes, we are The New York Yankees of football.”

Note: While one can agree that turning away fans who tried to enter with stickers (some fans passed them out at local bars prior the game) relates to a more basic issue—Why waste the staff’s time in having them remove them all over the stadium?—the issue relates to any sign of discontent with United’s ownership. And the interesting thing is that what is “injurious,” and hence rightfully disallowed by a private party or institution, takes on a whole different light when the source of dissent or discontent is unrelated to the hosting party, while clearly not negatively affecting the public (i.e. it’s not offensive). While one can read over the legalese, there’s also glaring common sense that one would hope goes beyond any contract agreed upon by United and the Union.

Photo by Nicolae Stoian

11 Comments

  1. Quite right, any United fan in a Green or Yellow scarf or item should be denied entry.
    Support the team, support the club and wear your red and white with pride.
    If you loved United as much as you hate glazer, then your support would be miles better than the stupid Green and Gold actions we see now.
    People calling for boycotts are a bigger problem than the glazers themselves.

  2. Well Mr T – Green and Gold ARE United colours – 1992-1994 third kit was sold to celebrate the clubs Newton Heath Centenary

  3. in addition, those wearing the green and yellow at the game are obviously not boycotting as they are there and bought tickets.

  4. MUST and IMUSA are bigger parasites than the Glazers

  5. “The issue for stateside fans is why MLS and any of their teams would want to leave their fans with such a flat feeling.”

    Well considering that the Linc and the Eagles were the ones that actually put on that event, I am not sure why the MLS needs to give a crap. Might as well got mad at the FA or the UN since you seem to be throwing around blame.

    • wallyballs says:

      i saw many people wearing G&G scarves. I had some of my balloons popped, but that wasn’t due to their color.
      [IMG]http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww32/wallyballs77/DSCN0228.jpg[/IMG]

    • Brion Shreffler says:

      Even if this was a one-off event, the fact that it took place at The Linc doesn’t mean that the Union and MLS are free of blame. Since the same thing happened in every other city of Man U’s tour- and will most likely be repeated tonight in Houston- I’m hardly “throwing around” blame. But sure, let’s bring the UN into it.

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