A group of disgruntled Manchester United players have refused to carry out sponsorship activities in protest at the club’s transport shambles.
A number of first-team stars were scheduled to take part in a session for United’s commercial partners yesterday.
However, they declined, saying they were making a point about an embarrassing travel situation that has seen the build-up to the club’s last two home European matches thrown into chaos.
Around five of Jose Mourinho’s squad attend the monthly event at United’s training complex, allowing sponsors to take pictures and film footage with the club’s players. But those on yesterday’s rota refused to appear, citing transport issues.
The development is certain to raise tension at the under-performing club, who are 10th in the Premier League table.
Mourinho declined to get involved.
However, the manager, who has suggested on a number of occasions that he has not been backed sufficiently in the transfer market, has tried to ramp up pressure on executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, and yesterday’s revolt would appear to be more evidence of a disconnect between playing staff and senior management.
A number of players were expected to attend another sponsorship event this evening, and yesterday’s refusal is being viewed as a one-off rather than an all-out strike.
Privately, there is bemusement at the club that they appear to be being blamed for the congestion that has gripped the city.
Yesterday, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham revealed he had asked police, transport officials, councils and operators to carry out an urgent review into transport planning for midweek match-days at Old Trafford.
Mourinho was pictured walking to the stadium before Tuesday night’s Champions League defeat at the hands of Juventus.
United had switched from the city centre Lowry Hotel to the Hilton at nearby Lancashire County Cricket Club after a previous delay saw the kickoff of their fixture with Valencia delayed and the club fined.
However, the bus taking United the half-mile from one Old Trafford to the other got stuck in traffic, prompting the manager to proceed on foot.