The Malta Tourism Authority’s Visit Malta campaign in partnership with Manchester United could be in jeopardy as an unnamed group of the club’s supporters have taken their protests to the next level – boycotting the club’s partners with the aim of attacking United owners’ financial income.
In a letter, sent to over 50 companies who aid the club financially through their sponsorships, the group of supporters has explained how the Glazers family has run riot with the club’s money and that in an attempt to stop this from going on, they were to urging fellow supporters to boycott, tarnish products and support competitors of the same companies whose investments “will be used for debt servicing and dividend”.
“As commercial partners of the Glazer family, you are legitimate targets of the global fanbase, because the combined £279m per annum you pay will not go towards investment in the squad to compete with the best clubs United now trail,” the letter reads.
“It will not go towards refurbishing Old Trafford or training facilities, both now so outdated they have become a symbol for Glazer disinterest.”
The letter called the companies’ involvement ‘sustaining a parasitical relationship’ as fans are said to be left ‘desperate’ with the club “weighed down by debt and unable to marshal its own resources to compete where it should”.
According to the Times, many sponsors have already been targeted, with TeamViewer – an IT company which recently signed a shirt sponsorship to replace Chevrolet – bombarded with negative online reviews bringing down its trust rating, as has happened with AON, after whom the club’s training ground is named.
The Malta Tourism Authority became United’s Destination Partner after a 2019 advertising deal signed by then Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi until 2022, with which the MTA would advertise the ‘Visit Malta’ brand around Old Trafford, Manchester United’s home ground, during games.
Following this letter, which has been also sent to United executives on Wednesday, the MTA told the Times of Malta that it will be an issue that requires further discussion.
“We still need to look at what these supporters are looking for so it’s not exactly something we can set a position upon just yet,” Johann Buttigieg, the Chief Executive Officer at the MTA, said.
“Just like what happened with the Super League, I’m sure we’ll be taking decisions at a reasonable time. Obviously if one does not agree with our decision, I’m in no position to tell them not to boycott.
“We’ll also be looking to discuss this with Manchester United to see how they will be handling the situation and after, we’ll make our own assessment.”
This added protest by the supporters’ group comes as a response to owner Avram Glazer refusing to apologise for the club’s role in the failed European Super League when asked to do so by a reporter from Sky News in Florida.
“United fans have sought every possible avenue since the takeover to improve the situation: from peaceful protesting to open letters, to fan-led share purchase initiatives and consortium bids. The Glazers have ignored every attempt,” the letter reads.
Protests are said to be continuing over the next few weeks, with United set to play Roma in the Europa League semi-final second leg in Rome on Thursday.