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
game against Arsenal, informing fans in K-Stand that they must
throughout the match or face ejection. This was the straw that broke
the camel's back! Despite success on the field many devoted Reds
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
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
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’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
welcomes its supporters.
- To increase the opportunities and ways in which supporters
of Manchester United can express their affiliation with,
- To give a voice to those supporters of Manchester United
who would otherwise count amongst those most excluded
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
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 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
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
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/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
press as IMUSA felt that press involvement may have stirred
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
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
- 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
in the 1990's and many were determined not to let the opportunity
pass them by. A further presentation was made to the Task
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
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
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