A “paradigm shift” is needed to give football a much-needed “facelift”, the Westminster Chaplain for Sport has said.
Mgr Vladimir Felzmann said the sport needs to urgently fix relationships between “greedy” owners, clubs and their dedicated fans, or else the “beautiful game” risks being hit by a major disaster.
The chaplain’s comments came following a highly controversial protest at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium.
The ground, nicknamed the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ descended into a nightmare over the weekend, as protests against the club’s owners, the Glazer family, turned nasty, with fans storming the ground and fighting with police officers. This resulted in the postponement of the club’s highly anticipated match with fierce rivals Liverpool.
The decision to postpone the game was made all the more significant as a United defeat would have seen local rivals Manchester City crowned Premier League champions.
In response to the ugly scenes, Mgr Felzmann urged football authorities to ensure that clubs are not destroyed by greedy owners and such protests are not repeated, as he called for change.
“How the mighty have fallen. Man United, due to the Glazers, has become dysfunctional family. Sir Alex Ferguson, and so many who remember Man U at its zenith, must be sad,” he told The Catholic Universe.
“The greed of owners though it might help their bank balance short term is, long term, a disaster.
“To give the beautiful game a facelift, there needs to a paradigm shift in the relationships between owners, clubs and their fans,” Mgr Felzmann suggested.
“The FA and Nigel Huddleston, the Minister for Sport, might be able to knock a few heads together to help them see the light. I pray they do.”
The Old Trafford protest received mixed reactions across football, with some condemning the violent scenes and criminal damage carried out, while others said the protest was a long time coming, as they criticised the Glazers for loading debt on the club and showing no interest in engaging with fans.
However, many of those in support of the protest did admit that a small minority of fans took it too far, with reports of police officers being injured and equipment being damaged and stolen.
Picture: Manchester United fans make their point clear on the Glazers.