“When you consider the core values of Chevrolet, our passionate customers around the world, and our rich 100-year history, the partnership with Manchester United is a perfect fit.” So says Alan Batey, General Motors’ North America vice-president, US sales and service, about a new deal to slap the Chevy brand on United’s jerseys starting in the 2014/2015 season.
Well I agree with that assessment, but not for the same reasons as those intended. Yes, in our corporate-dominated world, every team must have a sponsor, no matter how Idiocracy-approaching (adults wearing shirts that read “Bimbo”—fantastic), insidious, or just downright ugly they may be. So who better to sponsor a club run by delusional sellouts looking to pawn off debt on the American public in exchange for no decision-making ability whatsoever than a car company that did the exact same thing?
When Malcolm Glazer become the main shareholder of Manchester United in 2005, through what many believe to be a controversial hostile takeover, its debt was estimated at around $850 million. Since that time, ticket prices at Old Trafford have increased by over 42%, and United is now being traded in the US stock market—both great ways to stick the public with at least part of the bill. Some dissenters claim that Glazer is even funneling profits from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in order to plug up the holes in his sinking financial boat (it’s probably a yacht).
Not surprisingly, many United supporters have resisted such morally bankrupt management (pun intended), and have even started their own collectively-run club, F.C. United of Manchester. (It was written into the club’s constitution that the team should not have a shirt sponsor.)
And what’s Chevrolet been up to since 2005? Well in 2008, General Motors executives were taking private jets to their meeting with the President’s committee to ask for (more) subsidies due to the American car manufacturers’ financial “crisis,” and in 2009 the company emerged from a government-backed Chapter 11 reorganization. In 2010, GM made an initial public offering that was one of the world’s top-five largest IPOs to date. Neat.
So the relationship between Chevrolet and United really seems to be a marriage made in heaven, and I use both “marriage” and “heaven” as I usually intend, i.e. pejoratively. A perfect fit it is, indeed, between a company and a club that have both externalized costs while privatizing gains, seemingly without any shame whatsoever.
(Of course, this all goes without mentioning that the production and operation of Chevrolets, like all cars, requires the destruction of the material earth and the exploitation/enslavement of masses of people along every step of the process—in other words requires widespread and continual violence against humans, nonhumans, and their ecosystems.)
I cannot wait until I no longer need a car for my day job. I guess then I can use the money I save to buy F.C. United of Manchester jerseys for me and all my friends.