Independent Manchester United Supporters Association



A brief history

The Independent Manchester united Supporters' Association was launched in April 1995 at an impromptu meeting in the Gorse Hill Hotel. The meeting was held in direct response to a tannoy announcement during the home game against Arsenal, informing fans in K-Stand that they must remain seated throughout the match or face ejection. This was the straw that broke the camel's back! Despite success on the field many devoted Reds had become increasingly disillusioned with the Board of Directors attitude towards match-going fans, sensing they were remote to the ideas and feelings of United's genuine supporters.

After the Arsenal game the fanzine editors were confronted with people demanding to know what was to be done. Thousands more talked about it amongst themselves. Within a week a dozen Reds met up to discuss a plan of action. This group, later referred to as the 'dirty dozen', was made up of editors of the two main fanzines and other well known United 'faces', including would be impresario and pop star Pete Boyle, fans author Richard Kurt and Manchester FSA chair Johnny Flacks, along with their assorted acquaintances. There had been growing discontent among United's following for a number of years and pressure groups had been formed on various issues, but now the very essence of being a supporter was under threat and a permanent organisation was needed to represent the views of the traditional United fan.

A public meeting was held at Manchester's Free Trade Hall on 22nd April and, despite the miserable Manchester weather, several hundred regular fans turned up to vent their frustrations. At this meeting an initial campaigning agenda was established and a further meeting was agreed where a committee would be elected.

Thousands of leaflets were distributed at the last two home games of the season advertising IMUSA's existence and the next meeting, at Lancashire Cricket Club on 11th May, took place in the week before the final game of the season at West Ham. The meeting was packed out with hundreds of Reds who listened to Kevin Miles from the Independent Newcastle United Supporters Association describe how they had set up their organisation and the experiences they had had in dealings with NUFC. A committee was elected and the initial agenda from the first meeting was endorsed. Additionally the meeting unanimously called upon the Club to appeal to the FA over Eric Cantona's ban.

Over the summer there was a great deal of behind the scenes activity. Reports about IMUSA appeared in the press around the world and IMUSA's claims that ordinary fans were being priced out prompted the now infamous response from board member Robin Launders. On BBC Newsnight he informed fans "..if you can't afford the first team, come to youth and reserve games". During the summer IMUSA's initial agenda was honed into a document called "Red print for change" which addressed the issues of:

  • Seating configuration, behaviour and young fans
  • Away match tickets
  • European travel
  • Prices and finance
  • Dialogue

Redprint first appeared in the fanzines in October 1995 and, in subsequent newsletter format, continues to provide the framework, and keep its members abreast of, IMUSA's campaigning efforts.

IMUSA Objectives

  • IMUSA’s objectives are as set in its constitution:
  • To represent the interests of Manchester United supporters, who are members of the association.
  • To establish and maintain a channel of meaningful dialogue with the Directors and Management at the Club.
  • To establish and maintain high quality services and communications with and for IMUSA members.
  • To promote and maintain the history and independence of Manchester United within the local communities of Greater Manchester and beyond and, in doing so, encourage the club to ensure it appreciates and welcomes its supporters.
  • To increase the opportunities and ways in which supporters of Manchester United can express their affiliation with, and active support of the club.
  • To give a voice to those supporters of Manchester United who would otherwise count amongst those most excluded from decision-making and consultation processes.
  • To campaign on behalf of the members of IMUSA.

IMUSA does not comment as an organisation on team selection or matters to do with the playing side of the club. However, we will always make comment on Club policy as it effects us as supporters. As such IMUSA campaigns that:

  • The success of the PLC business should always be of benefit to the football club and not vice-versa.
  • Greater access to tickets should be given to young supporters, through pricing policy.
  • A greater consideration be given to prices as affects the ‘ordinary’ supporter.
  • T.V. coverage and kick-off times should not conflict with the wishes of match-going fans.
  • Distribution of tickets should be fair and reward loyalty.
  • Greater consideration be given to how the atmosphere can be improved within Old Trafford.

The Association

The Independent Manchester United Supporters Association are an open democratic body pledged to giving the ordinary United supporter a voice because we believe match-going fans are the lifeblood of any football club. We have the full backing of all the Old Trafford fanzines, indeed editors of Red Issue and United We Stand were on the initial committee set up to oversee the formation of the association.

IMUSA operates with a committee of approximately 25, elected each year at an AGM, usually held in May. All committee members are actively involved in IMUSA's work, strictly no hangers on here. Committee meetings, open to all members, are held monthly during the football season at O'Briens in Stretford. In addition there are regular open meetings (members only) which have seen past guests include the manager, players (past and present), comedians, sports writers and commentators as well as quizzes and social events. Members receive a quarterly newsletter, entitled Redprint, which keeps those who cannot attend the meetings informed about what's going on.

The IMUSA Officers (2004-05)

Chairman: Jules Spencer
Press: Mark Longden
Vice Chair/Comms:
Vice Chair/Tickets: Michael Meade
Secretary: Vasco Wackrill
Membership: Duncan Drasdo

The Committee (May 2004-05)

IMUSA is further served by a 25-person committee. Details to follow.

Some of our successes

Over the years, IMUSA have had some notable successes:

  • One of our underlying aims was to present the press with an intelligent, informed and reliable source of comment on fan's issues. Previously United fans had grown accustomed to the humiliation of hearing crass comments from uninformed individuals who represented no-one but themselves
    During it's first full season IMUSA initiated, and was actively involved with, the Busby Memorial Fund helping to organise events to raise money for a fans' tribute to Sir Matt Busby. This tribute can now be seen above the player's entrance at the rear of Old Trafford
  • We have persuaded the Club to hold "Flag Days", encouraging fans to be more vocal in support of the team
  • IMUSA contacted MPs, MEPs, Police, English FA, and UEFA, resulting in FC Porto offering United nearly 5,000 extra tickets for our game in Oporto (E.C. 1997). None of this activity was recorded in the press as IMUSA felt that press involvement may have stirred bad feeling between fans of the two clubs
  • Without the efforts of IMUSA during the 1997-1998 season over forty fans ejected from Old Trafford for standing in support of their team would still be barred from the ground. Standing is an issue as yet unresolved but IMUSA won a reprieve for ejected fans and the removal of the intimidatory presence of Special Projects Security staff from K-Stand
  • On February 5th 1998 IMUSA made representation to the Football Task Force. At the public meeting in the evening hundreds of IMUSA members turned up to have their say. As one fan pointed out, it was the only real opportunity fans have had to express their concern about football in the 1990's and many were determined not to let the opportunity pass them by. A further presentation was made to the Task Force's Core Working Group in July
  • The opening of West Tier 2 must be seen as a major success for IMUSA. We have campaigned since our formation for a popular end at OT and we will continue that campaign until the whole of the Stretford end is back in the hands of those to whom it really belongs
  • Internationally, IMUSA has written Euro reports for the last 4 years As a result of these reports we now have greater access to tickets for independent travellers. When we contact the authorities about potential conflict, they listen.
  • IMUSA's participation in the fans forum has led the club to take some steps in the right direction. Whilst the club have not gone far enough, they do seem to have some idea as to which direction they should be going. We will keep on fighting for a fully democratic forum (as has recently happened at Newcastle). We will continue to strive for 50% discounts for OAP's and juniors and the unemployed, as of right, in any part of the ground. We would also like to see the junior age raised to 18 with concessions up to 21
©1995-2004 The Independent Manchester United Supporters Association