The current backlash
Following the opening day 2-1 loss to Brighton at old Trafford, and the embarrassing 4-0 thumping away to Brentford, there has been widespread call for a change in ownership. Manchester United now currently sit bottom of the league and have lost their first 2 games of a new season since the inaugural season of the premier league in 1992. The difference is, in 1992, Manchester United went on to win the league title, but with the current team, it looks like relegation is more likely than adding a league title to the trophy cabinet. Now, let’s talk about the main problem at Manchester United, and the history behind it.
There have been such calls for change in ownership for almost 2 decades, in fact dating back to 2005. In February of that year, before the takeover was even confirmed, there were protests against the eventual new owners of the club, The Glazer family. Fans marched around Old Trafford, blocking traffic outside the stadium. Before the eventual sale of the club to Malcolm Glazer for around £800 million, FC United of Manchester was formed in May of 2005, a breakaway club formed by fans out of protest of the sale of the club to the Glazers. Despite the concerns of fans, in June 2005, the takeover was completed, which in turn resulted in more protests.
Fans were outraged with the new American Owners, despite the then current success of the club, which perhaps debunks the myth that United fans are only unhappy with the ownership because of the recent dip results and silverware. As per the BBC report regarding the takeover in 2005, “It might take a long time, maybe two or three years, but we are showing Glazer that we won’t give up. The Glazer brand is toxic and tarnished, uncool and unstylish. Glazer will lose the war” 17 years later, the Glazer family are still owners of Manchester United.
This hatred continued, Joel, Avi and Bryan Glazer left their first game at old Trafford in police vans as 100 officers used batons to subdue a crowd of 300 angry fans who blocked exits chanting “die, Glazer die!”
In a game vs AC Milan in 2010, a Newton Heath scarf was thrown onto the pitch, with David Beckham picking it up and wearing it in a subtle but clear sign to show the fans he was on their side.
Fans were looking to change the ownership in 2021, with momentum building for a number of years, it all came to a head in April of that year. The Glazer’s attempted to bring Manchester United into the super league, a new concept of breaking out into a separate league of 20 of Europe’s elite clubs, in an attempt to make even more money for themselves, with the sacrifice of tarnishing the morals, foundations, reputation and history of the club, and its fans loyalty over the years. Luckily, with the help of many fierce protests, on April 20th, only 2 days after being announced, the 6 English clubs initially proposed to be in the league, pulled out of the agreement, and since have apologised to the fans and admitted it was a mistake.
The backlash to this did not stop there though, after calls for Edward Woodward to resign, he eventually did so after 16 years at the club. Only 2 weeks after the super league issue, on the 2nd of May, fans of Manchester United managed to cancel a clash between fierce rivals Liverpool, scheduled for a 3:30pm kick-off. After finding a way onto the pitch before kick-off, while on the pitch, fans displayed anti-Glazer banners, accompanied by green and yellow flares. This was to represent the club’s history, which was originally founded as Newton Heath in 1878, who wore yellow and green as their colours.
The Glazers were under pressure to sell the club, and it seemed as if they might sell, after a report from The Daily Star and other papers said, “The Glazer family finally appear to be ready to sell Manchester United, 16 years after taking over.”
Unfortunately, they did not sell, and are still at the helm of this great club
So why do the fans hate the Glazer’s so much?
The fan’s hatred of the glazers goes back to the sale of the club, in 2005. Fans didn’t take to the family from the start partly because one of their first actions as the new owners was to dump around £600m of debt onto the club. Most of the capital used by the Glazers to purchase Manchester United came in the form of loans, which were secured against the club’s assets, with the promise of interest payments of £60m per year. In 2010, the club’s debt reached a new high of £716.5m, while the Glazers paid themselves £10m in “management and administration fees” from the club into their own pockets.
In addition to this, the Glazers have taking dividends out of the club consistently since acquiring United, only 4 owners in the premier league. have taken dividends from 2010-2020, West Brom, who’s owners took 27 million out of the club, Leeds United who have taken 1 million out of the club, and Norwich who have taken less than 1 million out of the club. Then the Glazers, who have taken 122 million out of the club and right into their own pockets.
Investment is also a hot topic in the United community, not just for acquiring players on the pitch, but also facilities to improve the club off the pitch. Firstly, the Glazers have invested the least out of any premier league team since 2014, while Chelsea at the top have had 440million invested into the club, United sit rock bottom, with a negative investment of 89 million. All money used on Manchester united is generated from the club itself, and this style of running the football club has costed the club almost 2 billion in the last 17 years. This sum alone clearly shows how much the Glazer family is holding United back financially.
The lack of Investment in Old Trafford and training facilities have left fans agitated and angered, with the stadium in a state of disrepair, with leaks in the roof and a proposed 200 million renovation for the stadium rejected. A lack of investment in the youth is also a relevant issue, where united have spent less in the department in recent years than the likes of Brighton.
From 2006-2020, The Total Revenue of United was 6.84 billion. 1.43 billion of that was player purchases, which saw reckless purchases from the likes of making Harry Maguire, the current club captain, the most expensive defender EVER. Or paying 60 million on Angel Di Maria, and then selling him for 15 million less only 12 months later. In the same period, United spent 2.88 billion on wages, the most of any premier league team. Tying down unused players to long term contracts on silly wages, players such as Phil Jones signing an 80,000 per week, 5 year contract in 2019. Since then, he’s had 7 different injuries and has missed over a 18 months due to injury.
You get the point. The glazers have destroyed the club, 704 million spent on interest payments, and yet as of May 2022, Manchester United are still 582 million in debt.
The total payments to the glazers over the last 17 years totals 1.1 billion pounds, showing the real problem at the club is the owners, rather than the Manager.
But what is being done about it?
Over the last few weeks there has been a new wave of Glazers out movements, fans have been targeting the Glazers’ other companies, businesses, and club’s sponsorships. There have been fans slashing the Glazers’ reviews on google, including their prestige hotel, The Renaissance Vinoy from an admirable 4.5 stars, with over 3k reviews on google, to a 3.0 star rating. This is an attempt to damage the Glazers’ businesses revenue, and to tempt them to sell the club for less hassle for their other businesses.
This has also caused Team Viewer to take their name out of that hat for a renewal on their current deal of £64m per year with the club after fans bombarded the websites with negative reviews regarding the partnership with the club. The software company lost 80% of its market value since the deal came into place.
There is also a planned boycott of the next game being held at Old Trafford vs Liverpool, where fans are planning to boycott the game and let their voices be held outside the ground, the hashtag #EmptyOldTrafford has been trending all over twitter with over 100k tweets with the hashtag. This is similar to something of Valencia’s and AC Milan’s fans protest, who did this to also protest their owners, and AC Milan were eventually successful with getting new owners in 2018. This would send a strong message to sponsors and partners of the club and would negatively financially impact the glazers.
What are opinions on the Glazers, and what do you want to happen with the ownership of the club? Let us know and comment your options and thoughts!