Chronicles

Rio Ferdinand, the Glazers and the glaring Newcastle contradiction after Mike Ashley defence

Rio Ferdinand’s backing for Manchester United fans’ right to protest against the Glazers has raised eyebrows among Newcastle United supporters.

The former Red Devils skipper first drew the ire of the Toon Army following his controversial defence of unpopular Magpies owner Mike Ashley in 2019.

Ferdinand has more recently drawn criticism from Newcastle supporters for indicating the fanbase should simply raise the millions required to buy the club outright.

It is these opinions which have been raised again by disgruntled Magpies fans following the pundit’s response to events at his former club on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side witnessed protests outside The Lowry Hotel, and their match with rivals Liverpool was eventually postponed after fans gained access to Old Trafford.

Ferdinand did not condone the violence which generated global headlines, but believes large-scale protests from ‘shunted’ fans were inevitable following the collapse of the European Super League.

Ferdinand told his YouTube channel : “If I’m looking at it as a fan of Manchester United and a fan of football, and an ex-player of the club too, I have to say that I’m with the fans.

“I can’t be any other side of the line. Yes, we don’t want violence, and I’m not condoning violence or any type of law-breaking at all.

“But these fans have been shunted aside. They’ve been put to one side and told listen, you’re not a consideration. This is the response you get when things like that happen, and you try and take over a club and take it away from the fans, and think the fans don’t mean a thing.

“What these guys [the Glazers] did was an absolute liberty, and there was always going to be a reaction. If you want change in anyway shape of form in any life, any business, any industry, protests happen.

“To be surprised by this, I think you’re crazy. This is something I think was inevitable given the enormity of what happened.

“I have to stand firm and shoulder to shoulder with the fans. Listen, I was captain of Man United many times and had great moments winning things etc. To think I’d stand there and say you know what, the fans are wrong.

“I can’t, with my hand on my heart. If there’s anybody wrong in this, it’s the people that own the club.”

Ferdinand’s endorsement of fan unrest at Old Trafford seems to contrast sharply with his views on the anger on Tyneside with Ashley.

The pundit told Magpies fans they should be thankful to the owner for his investment following relegation, and recently stressed unhappy supporters should fundraise to buy the Fraser Group magnate out.

Ferdinand said on BT Sport in 2019: “When they went down, he spent £50m of his own money to get them up. Thank you, that should be. By the way, please say thank you for getting Rafa Benítez in! They’re lucky to have him!”

“They should say thank you to Ashley. You look at Sunderland, they had £1.2million to go up from the Championship. And they owe a thank you to Mike Ashley for getting Rafa Benitez.”

The contrasting messages led one Newcastle fan to ask on Twitter: “Now you’re back on Twitter, would you care to explain why the Glazers should sell Manchester United but why you told working class people of Newcastle that if Mike Ashley is such a shocking owner they should round up money and buy it themselves?”

Another supporter posted: “If the fans of the self proclaimed “big 6” don’t like their owners and how their clubs are being run, they should just have a whip round and buy the clubs themselves shouldn’t they Rio?”

A third fan commented: “One of those ‘pundits’ told us fans to be quiet and buy the club if we were unhappy. Not a mention of it now regarding Man Utd. Isn’t that right?”

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