What Celtic supporters can learn from Manchester United protests

By Euan Davidson

May 4, 2021

The Super League, including clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona and Juventus, had little if anything to do with Celtic, right?

For one thing, we weren’t invited to the party. In the end, that’s a huge relief, given the embarrassing collapse of the tournament. In one day, it went from snarling footballing behemoth to bad idea [Guardian].

Of course, while the League itself is over, the ideas are still there. The greed it represents are still there, and some clubs are still keen to do it. It’s just that now, they may be on somewhat of an island, outside UEFA and the interest of most supporters.

The key thing to take away from this, though? Protest works. Being organised against billionaire owners works, and ultimately, it gets results.

Look at Liverpool, for an example. They’ve won significant trophies in recent memory, but when their owners flexed their Super League muscle, supporters reacted immediately [Mirror]. By the close of play, the hierarchy at Anfield knew exactly how their supporters felt about the direction of the club. Trophies don’t matter without a soul.

As for this weekend, we saw Manchester United supporters get a game called off [Daily Mail]. While folk breaking things and getting arrested is by no means a good thing, it does prove this: you can be disruptive within democratic, legal means. When a billionaire owner is acting like a tyrant, direct action can send a message.

There is not a soul in the football world who surely now believes that the Glazers are good for Manchester United.

And for Celtic fans, that leaves us with decisions to make. There’s been protest against the board before, but it’s fallen on deaf ears. A campaign to hit them in the pockets, though; that has lasting potential.

Impactful scenes at Old Trafford / (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)

Super League revolt and Premier League protest: lessons from Liverpool and Manchester United for Celtic supporters

Supporter groups like Celtic Shared, and – longer term – the Celtic Trust, have kept the spirit of rebellion alive amongst the Celtic support. You’d have to imagine that, were Celtic asked to a version of the Super League, they’d be right at the front saying “no”.

Because, really, the fight for Celtic’s soul has been an ongoing one. While the club has won trophy after trophy – and nobody is complaining on that score – there’s been a disconnect felt between the supporters and the people tasked with running the club.

The Shares for Season Tickets proposal has been criticised as a perceived “lack of loyalty” by some corners of the support, but it’s the opposite. It’s the kind of working class action that wants to put even a modicum of control back in supporters’ hands. Some supporters suggest that these groups wouldn’t be fussed if Celtic were winning, but the alienation felt in large swathes of the support has been ongoing for a long time.

So, what’s the point here? This weekend, we saw that working class supporters, organising effectively, can bring about change.

That’s a good message not just for football, but for society. With enough passion and energy, normal people can bring down billionaires. They can wrestle back a measure of control over what’s important to them.

Nobody is suggesting that Celtic fans recreate the scenes of Sunday in Manchester. However, we should be taking lessons. If supporters are co-ordinated and share a vision of how the club ought to be run, making a lasting impact is possible.

After all, it’s happened before, and it saved Celtic Football Club.

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