When Matt Busby took the bold decision to take Manchester United into Europe, he could never have envisaged what lay ahead. The disapproval from the Football Association, the very human cost, and the ultimate in sporting triumph that occurred in 1968.
Matt Busby and Manchester United are woven into the very fabric of British football. They are the foundations. They are the very watermark of European club football in this country. Many of those that have tasted success since, owe much to the vision of one man from Orbiston in Scotland.
Manchester United as a football club, would not be where it is today, were it not for Busby. Sure, there are many, many other figures that have guided the Club from Newton Heath to Old Trafford. But one man defines Manchester United. One man defines the way that Manchester United should play the game of football. One man, epitomises what Manchester United are about.
Yet there are those within the Club that would throw Matt Busby’s legacy and history and everything that goes with it, into the Ship canal. I am lost for words at the audacity of the hierarchy of the Club. To even contemplate joining a European “Super” League during a global pandemic defies belief. There will be many fans who are struggling to keep their heads above water. But they would have been doing it, in the knowledge that one day, football would be back. And they could walk down the Warwick Road, and see Old Trafford once more. As football fans, we know that dreams can’t be bought. Yet we turn up in our droves, in the sun and the rain, daring to dream. It’s something that can keep us going, during our darkest times.
So one thing to contemplate it in the current circumstances, but to then try and put Sir Matt’s name to it? To include Sir Matt, as a way of trying to “sell” it to us? It defies description! It makes me so angry that anyone within the Club could be a party to this. There is no doubt in my mind that this is NOT what Sir Matt would have wanted. I know you’ll all be sat reading (hopefully), and nodding in agreement.
Let’s get one thing clear. We as a Club, would do very well out of it financially – or at least the owners would. But there are wider issues. Not least the “closed shop” nature and the lasting damage it would cause. The football pyramid is already on shaky ground due to the pandemic. This could spell the end for many more clubs, than it already has.
And yet, I haven’t even mentioned some of the excluded. Ajax, winners three years on the bounce, four times overall. Masters of ‘total football’. Dortmund, that glorious ‘Yellow wall’ and winners against Juventus in the mid 90’s. Eusebio’s Benfica, beaten by United in ’68, but also back-to-back winners at the beginning of the same decade. Nottingham Forest, not only won it twice, but knocked out an unseeded (spits) reigning European Cup holders Liverpool in the first round. Glasgow Celtic, the very first British winners, with about 90 domestic honours to their name. Who on earth declared some of these founding teams, as “super”?
The breaking news is that Chelsea and Manchester City are the first of these fraudsters to break ranks, and split. Meanwhile the Tampa Bay mafia, with the latest set of keys to Old Trafford, remain silent. A silence that speaks volumes. I started this article calling this the ‘Betrayal of Manchester United’, it isn’t. This is the betrayal of British football.