Well, the boycott happened on Sunday.
Since then I have read, seen and scrolled through a variety of responsive comments, ranging from the justifiable to the downright thick-ignorant. Rather than get involved in any debate I’ve decided to write and justify my opinions here. For the record, that is what they are; my opinions.
(Jamie is just one of our ever expanding team of regular/irregular writers, send in your original articles for our website to [email protected] and share them with the world – all views are the author’s own etc etc)
I cannot see how this boycott can be viewed as anything other than a success. I didn’t go to the game despite having a valid season ticket and I’m pleased with my decision.
As many have said though, I completely understand and respect that people chose to go. In fact, I had initial misgivings about the protest being announced after tickets had gone on sale (although I realise it was a response to the mackem debacle).
There will have been circumstances where people had arranged to take children, or perhaps made travel plans to come from other parts of the world and it would not be fair to expect them to undo all of this on short(ish) notice, especially with kids involved who would likely not understand.
However, I do feel there’s one argument that has been tossed back at the boycotters that is indicative of a complete lack of understanding from some quarters.
The following statement has been horribly mis-overused in recent days:
“Ashley doesn’t care if you boycott! He’s already got your money and that’s all he’s bothered about”
What people don’t seem to be getting is that this boycott was not about money. Ashley is one of the richest people in the UK, to try and use ticket money (a drop in the ocean of the TV rich Premier League) as a blackmail tool is not a valid strategy.
I am not part of the Ashley out team and do not speak for them, but I strongly suspect they are well aware of this fact. For clarity (and remember this is my opinion) the point in this boycott was to make a statement of intent.
For all the outright lies of a supposed 47k attendance, it seems the accurate predictions range from 31-37k. Either way there is a clear message that 15-20 thousand supporters are aggrieved enough to forsake doing what they love in order to make a point. Hopefully this will strike a chord with Ashley.
While I don’t expect a below par crowd to concern him, he will hopefully be aware of the intent of the Ashley out campaign to use people power to strategically hit home where it hurts, and the fact that there are numbers not evident in previous protests willing to throw their hat in, may have set alarm bells ringing.
Further to this, and more importantly, the exposure this event has gained has been the real measure of its success.
The magnificent monologue against Ashley and his ilk from Jamie Carragher was the highlight but the level of reporting on national media has created nothing but negative publicity for Mike and the club.
Additionally, and this is a stretch, it has given our plight exposure further afield. In order to oust the current regime we need someone with considerable wealth, and it could be that the level of attention gained on Sunday has raised some awareness of this among the type of people who operate at this level.
Finally, there is the question of where we go next?
Some naysayers have said this is pointless as a one-off. I disagree completely for the reasons above. I also remain confident that the Ashley out campaign will put clear statements of how they intend to progress from this promising beginning (remember, this boycott rose organically from Twitter, and was endorsed by Ashley Out but not part of their plan).
(Both photos thanks to Adam Barnsley)
What I would say is that wherever we go from here, everyone must agree we need to be in the Premier League. Full focus on beating Swansea (more likely than Tottenham) in an untelevised Saturday kick off is the right thing for now and the next move can come about once we’ve crawled over that safety line.
Some have expanded on this to the point of advocating that jacking in your season ticket is the only way to go towards any kind of sustained protest. This is also the common view from the outside, with our support being scoffed at for its consistency, not too many (trophy less) years on from “where were you when you were sh*t?”
Surely this is once again an individual matter. If you still enjoy the match day crack and see it more as a social event, you should keep going. If you feel the day is a chore, a pi** take and an insult and have rapped in to spend more time with your family or friends doing things that make you happy, you do right.
However, if you would like to go to match but feel you need to make a statement, then don’t give in out of hopelessness. Surely it’s a viable alternative to turn up, sing, shout and when the opportunity presents itself, make a nuisance of yourself to the regime who are destroying what you love.
So many people are in different positions, but surely we can be United enough to respect everyone’s different choices? There are interesting times in front of us for certain, but the greatest challenge seems to be to get everyone singing from the same sheet.
So do what you want, respect other people’s decisions and maybe give a chance to anyone trying to take action for what they believe is right.
Like I say, my opinion.
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf