MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United tried to reassure skeptical fans that it won’t revive plans for the Super League, though many supporters still expressed outrage on Friday.
The exchange took place in a team-run fan forum with United attempting to make amends amid reports that thousands of supporters plan to protest Sunday at Old Trafford when the team hosts Liverpool.
“I can assure you that we have learned our lesson from the events of the past week and we do not seek any revival of the Super League plans,” United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said in a statement to the forum.
United and Liverpool were among six Premier League clubs that tried to form an exclusive European Super League along with three clubs each from Spain and Italy. Widespread opposition quickly ended the project, with all six English teams backing out within 48 hours of the announcement.
The “Big 6” clubs have been in damage control since, offering various forms of apologies and statements of regret, while fans long frustrated with billionaire owners have called for wholesale changes.
United co-owner Joel Glazer said in a statement on April 21 that “we apologize unreservedly” and pledged to work closely with supporters to rebuild trust.
At the Friday forum, however, the Manchester United Supporters Trust issued a statement rejecting Glazer’s apology and proposing changes “to rebalance the current ownership structure in the favor of supporters.”
“We are disgusted, embarrassed and angry at the owner’s actions in relation to the planning, formation and announcement of the European Super League,” said the supporters trust, which boasts 200,000 members worldwide.
“Joel Glazer’s subsequent apology is not accepted. Actions speak louder than words and he and his family have shown time and again that their sole motivation is personal profit at the expense of our football club.”
Woodward, who is stepping down at the end of the year, apologized Friday for his role in the Super League decision. Discarding the principle of open competition and earning places was a mistake, he said.
“As Joel said last week, we failed to give enough weight to the essential principles and traditions of sporting merit which are so vital to football not just in domestic competition but in European competition since the mid-1950s,” he said. “We want to restate our commitment to those traditions.”
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