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Liverpool have already shown Manchester United what's next in battle with Glazer family

Liverpool Echo logo Liverpool Echo 03/05/2021 Paul Gorst

The scenes at Old Trafford on Sunday were reminiscent of a bygone era for the Liverpool supporters tuning into their televisions.

With football fans still locked out of stadia across the country, Reds followers were left only with the option of huddling around the TV screens for the biggest game in English football over the weekend.

For their United counterparts, however, this was the time to finally re-enter Old Trafford.

But while the return of supporters across the land has long been a wish of all connected with the sport, this was not how it should have been.

Instead of turning up to pack the stands and cheer on their teams, the mood as United fans filtered into the ground itself was of anger.

The Glazer family and their role in the attempted coup of football just two weeks ago mobilised the United supporters.

The Americans have always been disliked for their heavily leveraged buyout and saddling the club with large debt, but the Super League proposals appear to have been the straw that has broken the camel's back.

Liverpool fans, still reeling from Fenway Sports Group's own involvement in the Super League shambles, will have been keenly aware of the depth of feeling up the end of the M62.

FSG are nowhere near as reviled as the Glazers are in the respective eyes of the two sets of supporters, but their standing has plummeted to arguably an all-time low in recent weeks at Anfield.

But while the protests outside the ground on Sunday will have looked familiar to Reds fans, it is not FSG who have felt the backdraft from mismanagement as absentee owners.

For that, you have to trawl back 11 years to a time when Tom Hicks and George Gillett had driven Liverpool FC to the brink of financial ruin.

Reds supporters worked tirelessly over years to ensure that the previous owners would leave the club.

Their efforts included a march in 2009 on the day that Liverpool welcomed Manchester United to town, no less.

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Thousands lined the streets in protest in September of that year ahead of a 2-0 win, but that was not the first time the anti-Hicks-and-Gillett sentiment had been made public at Anfield.

After a 3-0 win over Sunderland in 2008, a post-match demonstration was dignified and effective as around 2,000 fans stayed behind after the final whistle to vent their frustration.

Once more, they gathered in large numbers ahead of a 2-2 draw with Sunderland to send Hicks and Gillett a firm message about how they were no longer welcome at their football club in 2010.

Around 5,000 supporters stayed behind after the final whistle, imploring the businessmen to sell.

Lasting around 30 minutes, songs were repeatedly aired against Hicks and Gillett as Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher applauded the efforts as they left the pitch.

At the time, the Royal Bank of Scotland, which was owed £237.4m of the club's £282m debts, was due to make a decision on recalling its loan the following month.

It wasn't just marches and protests that Liverpool fans used to show their ire at the club's ownership. Supporters put together a coordinated email campaign to the Royal Bank of Scotland warning of a boycott if the bank renewed the reviled owners' loan.

And after Tom Hicks was spotted outside JP Morgan & Deutsche Bank in New York, Liverpool supporters flooded the organisation with emails warning them against loaning the Texan money to refinance.

It would finally take a dramatic High Court ruling in October 2010 to finally uproot the detested American owners, but Liverpool fans did it.

And perhaps, as the smoke begins to clear on Sir Matt Busby Way on Monday, the United faithful can look at their most fierce rivals for directions on where to go next?

After all, an isolated march and a high-profile protest is unlikely to be enough to turf the Glazers out of Old Trafford office.

The efforts of those protesters whose intentions were peaceful succeeded in calling a halt on the show on Sunday, but it will go on, eventually.

It always does.

But if United supporters are serious then they only need to look to Liverpool a decade ago to see how to keep the heat on.

The two situations are not identical and while Hicks and Gillett struggled to stay afloat amid crippling interest payments, United are in no dire straits on the balance sheets.

And while the two fanbases will always enjoy one of the most vociferous rivalries in the game, there is more that unites than divides where football supporters are concerned.

The last couple of weeks have proven that much, at least.


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