Local fans feel protests have 'crossed the line'

The protests took place almost 11,000 km away at Old Trafford in Manchester, but they certainly had an effect on Red Devils fans in Singapore.

Local fans had eagerly anticipated Manchester United's English Premier League clash against Liverpool, which was scheduled to kick off at 11.30pm on Sunday.

Even after about 200 United fans stormed the stadium before kick-off to protest against the Glazer family's ownership of the club, many in Singapore had hoped that the match would start. However, at around 1am, the match was postponed.

M. Tiru, a Singaporean studying at the University of Manchester and a United supporter, noted that fans' dissatisfaction with the Glazers has simmered for over a decade, and the club's involvement in the ill-fated and widely-condemned European Super League plan stoked even more anger.

However, he said: "It's great to make a stand and as a fellow fan, I support that, but they crossed the line when they stormed in and destroyed property. As a fan, I can't support that at all."

Another United fan, Fariz Zulhilmi, a University at Buffalo at the Singapore Institute of Management student, said he understood the protesters' frustration but said their actions could end up affecting the players instead.

"Yes, the protests have worked in terms of raising awareness of their sentiments," said the 26-year-old. "But the fact that it led to the postponement also makes those fans really irresponsible.

"Their actions affect fans who were eagerly anticipating the match, it affects the coaches and players who spent the week preparing for the match, and it could even lead to the club being penalised."

United fan Lenny Lim felt the drastic move got the protesters "noticed" and is hopeful it could force the Glazers out of the club.

But the 38-year-old, who works in the finance industry, added that he felt a different approach would work better. He has stopped buying the club's merchandise since 2016 in protest against the Glazers.

Said Lim: "We have to hit them where it hurts most and that is the commercial aspect of the club. If fans stop purchasing official merchandise and boycott matches, the Glazers will definitely sit up and take notice because it's hitting them in the pockets.

"Storming a stadium gets you attention but I'm not sure if there will be further effects."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2021, with the headline 'Local fans feel protests have 'crossed the line''. Subscribe