Manchester United legend Eric Cantona has backed a supporters’ campaign allowing fans to register their commitment to become a shareholder in the club.
‘Sign for United’ has been launched by the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) with the intention to recruit the club’s global fanbase so they can be part of a new fan share ownership scheme, proposed by the club.
It comes after Joel Glazer, executive co-chairman, promised supporters a greater say in the club following clear the air talks with fans in a forum earlier this month.
Frenchman Cantona is the first to pledge his support to the online campaign, announcing, “Yes, my friends, I have signed for United again.”
The initiative aims to make good on the Glazers’ promise to “create the biggest fans ownership scheme in world sport” with MUST pushing for supporter-owned shares having the same voting rights as the shares owned by the Glazer family.
The supporters’ group also want shares to be issued in sufficient numbers so fans can develop a meaningful ownership stake in the club, with a meaningful say over how it is run.
Commenting on the launch of the campaign, MUST chief executive Duncan Drasdo said: “Once again Eric Cantona is leading the attack for United and we as United fans need to follow his example – and join the Sign for United campaign.
“No-one loves the club more than we do so fans should be at the heart of ownership. This is our chance to take the first step towards that change.”
Tensions between the club’s hierarchy and fans have been running high following the initial decision for the club to join the proposed European Super League – something United later pulled out of amid intense pressure.
Anti-Glazer protests on May 2 also led to the home match against Liverpool being postponed.
Government review should create “Supporters Right to Buy”
Alongside the launch of ‘Sign for United’, MUST have also urged the government to ensure owners allow fans to buy shares in clubs as part of a “Football Right to Buy” scheme.
In a meeting with the Government’s Fan-Led Review of football, led by Tracey Crouch MP, it made the case for owners to create new shares each year, to be offered to club supporters, allowing fans to grow a meaningful shareholding over time.
Speaking about the Football Right to Buy scheme, Drasdo added: “A football club is a cultural and community asset, and the best people to protect these assets for the long-term are the supporters.
“Under our ‘Football Right to Buy’ scheme, fans would have an opportunity to grow a meaningful ownership stake over time, allowing them to invest in the clubs they love.”