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Is It Time For Man United Fans to Support The Glazers?

Photo by Gordon Marino

At this point last season, many neutral observers of Manchester United at Old Trafford could be forgiven for believing they were watching matches televised from Norwich City’s Carrow Road. This is not a criticism of the quality of football on display – clearly these were Premier League footballers. Instead it was the legions of Man United supporters wearing the green and gold colors to protest against the Glazers, the owners of Manchester United. The similarity of the colors to Norwich City was just a coincidence.

If you remember last season, Old Trafford was filled with banners urging all supporters to not renew their season tickets, a sea of Green and Gold scarves throughout the stadium and hostile chanting aimed exclusively at the club’s American owners. The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) made it very clear that they feel the club should be owned (at least partially) by the club’s supporters and refuse to endorse the club whilst it continues to operate under the burden of over £500 million in debt incurred by the Glazer family. It is a movement that has accumulated great support and has led to the club suffering a drastic fall in season ticket renewals.

I am not an economist, but I am a supporter of Manchester United and passionately care for the future of the club. However, I for one cannot bring myself to support this movement. Duncan Dresdo and the executive committee of MUST have, in my view, operated an ingenious strategic plan to attempt to usurp the Glazer family and ensure that supporters of the club have the ability to vote on the future running of Old Trafford.

Many will wonder why I cannot support this proposal, and there is no simple answer for this. Although the green and gold colors were prevalent at every United fixture from January to May 2010, the campaign has clearly waned throughout the 2010-2011 season. Some supporters still insist on wearing the colours of Newton Heath, although they still put money into the Glazer’s pockets by purchasing a match-ticket, food and drink from stadium kiosks and are often seen sporting an official club jersey. I cannot help feeling that these supporters that still attend matches wearing the ancient colours of Manchester United are merely following a fashion trend, and are not pursuing a campaign against the owners.

Manchester United claim to have over 333 million supporters worldwide and currently has over 11 million “fans” on the clubs official Facebook site. My ultimate problem with the proposed takeover, be it by a group of over 20 wealthy investors or by the club’s entire fan base, is that the club would lack in having any clear leader. For the time being, support of Sir Alex Ferguson is almost unanimously shared by most supporters of the United and his judgment is trusted due to his track record of success. The real problem would be 1) deciding who should succeed Ferguson and 2) allowing the new incumbent time and resources to succeed. With such a vast fan base, there will undoubtedly be many supporters who will not be content with whoever is ultimately chosen to take the Old Trafford hot seat.

Under the current model, United have silent owners who Ferguson claims to have received “100 percent” support from. The new manager will also require such support and no interference in team affairs from the chairman. Many supporters will unfairly demand instant and sustained success from Ferguson’s replacement. It is, in many ways, an impossible job. However, this job would be made all the more difficult if the supporters had the power to interfere with the managers job as an inevitable power-struggle between the supporters, 20 plus billionaire owners and the manager continue. Bob Paisley famously banished Bill Shankly from Anfield upon taking the job at Liverpool, stating that in football there must be “one dog, one master” and continued to build on Shankly’s success. Under Mr Dresdo’s proposal, Manchester United would have millions of individuals with the power to vote on all club matters over the managers head.

Many will argue that this model works perfectly well at Barcelona. It is also fashionable for many football experts to portray the Catalan club as the perfect model for all others to follow, a view shared by many who support the Green and Gold protests. I would ask these supporters to consider Barcelona’s track record over the last 15 years in comparison to Manchester United. Since 1995, Barcelona have won 6 La Liga titles and 2 European Cups. Manchester United has also won 2 Champions League trophies, and 9 Premier League titles. Barcelona undoubtedly have the strongest squad in La Liga and one of the most talented in Europe, but it is a fallacy to suggest that they have successfully operated any more effectively than United over the past 15 years.

I have my own opinions on where United could strengthen the squad and I would not claim that the Glazers debt has in any way helped Manchester United. Many agree that the squad will require investment this summer and believe the manager should have bought extra quality players in the summer of 2010. Yet there are 19 other clubs in the Premier League that would gladly trade United’s position in the Premier League table with only 8 games remaining.

The club has continued to grow commercially by signing significant telecommunication and other sponsorship agreements with blue-chip companies from all over the world. The debt continues to be gradually paid and the Glazers £220 million complete pay-back of the PIK hedgefund loan should not be underestimated.

The Glazers arouse suspicion by their silence; but from past experience silence is golden (not green) when it comes to football club owners.

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  1. John Kelly

    April 3, 2011 at 1:06 am

    The Simple facts of the Glazer Ownership is that 75p of every $1 of Season ticket holders money is going to service the debt. Already since 2005 the annual interest payment has been $43 Million English pounds.The Glazers are leeches and should not be anywhere near the biggest and best sports team in the World.

    • George

      April 3, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      Not just leeches, but greedy leeches. It’s imperative that we be successful every season. How realistic is that? While Chelski and Shitty are spending obscene amounts on players, we’re losing obscene amounts of cash. Glazers OUT!


  2. King Eric

    April 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Many seem to confuse SAF’s success w/the club with the Glazer’s since they’ve been in control. They do not go hand in hand. The only reason why United have consistently managed to win trophies is because of Sir Alex, not because of the Glazers. They know that they have to support him 100% or they would have already been out if Sir Alex were to join the cause and publicly denounce them. The problem w/the Glazer’s debt, as with any leveraged buy-out, is that they’ve turned a debt-free club into one that’s nearly a billion in debt and use the club’s revenue to pay down interest rather than putting it back into the club. Imagine if Sir Alex never got Ronaldo and they didn’t make 80 M on him, where would they be now?

    I cannot support their ownership when instead of doing things with club’s revenue like lowering ticket prices or having a designated section so that the real supporters could afford to attend the matches rather than tourists filling their pockets, they’re paying down high interest on their loans. If they didn’t assume this kind of debt, then this would all be possible as they’re the most supported club in the world and continuously globalize their market. Everything would be able to be invested back into the club, not just a small percentage. Even look at their mindset for shirt deals; they continuously put a different shirt out each year just to milk the supporters and fill their pockets, where as in years past, typically shirts would last two or three seasons.

    We can’t compete with the big swoop deals w/the likes of City and Chelsea or even Real Madrid or Barca. Even this summer, I see us making a few signings sure, but I don’t see us having the means to getting an expensive world class player, the type that United deserve. As much as I would love them to sign Sneijder, I think that realistically he’s out of our reach and we’ll have to settle for cheaper options like Adam or Ashley Young, just as we’ve been doing recently with the relatively bargain signings like Bebe, Chicharito, Smalling, etc. If it weren’t for Sir Alex finding good young talent at budget prices, then we’d be in big trouble.

    Any owner would look to maximize their commercial development, especially with a brand like Man Utd., not just the Glazers, so I wouldn’t give them so much credit for that. Another reason for them reaching out to the commercial market so much recently and pushing its importance is because they’ve seen major decreases and have lost a lot from the average supporter/consumer – it’s to minimize their impact. I fear and definitely don’t look forward to the day that Sir Alex decides to retire; it will be a sad, sad day and the end of an era and the beginning of some struggling years ahead. The only person possible of filling that void would have to be Mourinho and we wouldn’t be able to afford him or spend the way he’d want to.


  3. ChrisMUFC

    April 2, 2011 at 7:07 am

    If you want to be positive about the glazer ownership then the only thing the glazers brought to United and David Gill is correct (for once) in saying this was the ability to attract commercial Partners from Insurance brokers to official wine partners, which is all well and good, alot of football clubs over the world are struggling to even survive and couldn’t dream of such partners, The only problem is that this income from ‘official partners’ isn’t going into the right channels of the football club its going into a debt repayment. If there was no debt and this income was going into the club, Not just money to buy players would be available but money to invest in the infrastructure of the club, the local community and most importantly cheaper tickets.

  4. paul

    April 2, 2011 at 3:29 am

    we may be top of the league but playing the worst football in years, Dept- no money for top players anymore . The dreaded cup scheme has also been bought in by the Glazers fleecing fans for another £4oo on top of the season ticket price.(depening on how far we go). Season tickets have more than doubled in price since 2005 and what happened to the 80 million from the Ronaldo sale? The club can only go one way under the Glazers now with no investment.Most of the current squad wouldn’t of got in the United teams of 10-15 years ago. LUHG ps does the journalist only attend games whilst working sat in the journalists seats on a freeby having his ear bent by Gill. and calling us man u aswell.

  5. JLay

    April 1, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Like it or not, football is business- and United is a BIG business. The Glazers own United – you don’t. It’s as simple as that.

    City are spending money as fast as they can print it – so are Chelsea. Are they any better off than United? The table says no. And I can tell you another thing – the problem with “plaything” clubs like City or Chelsea is that eventually, the rich guy who owns you gets bored and the money disappears.

    Ronaldo left because he couldn’t wear pink hotpants in Manchester. We all need to get over it and thank out lucky stars for SAF.

  6. sports24x

    April 1, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    i can say more about this but one thing is for sure i don’t have any problem with glazers untill our team is winning..

  7. pete

    April 1, 2011 at 11:25 am

    People often use the fact that Man Utd are winning to support the Glaziers. The fact is they were winning before the Glaziers arrived. The only difference is the club was debt free and able to go out buy whoever they wanted. This is not the case now, the interest payments on the debt means all the profit goes into paying this off and not on new players. The only year since the Glaziers arrived that Man Utd made a profit was the year Ronaldo was sold and it was 40 million profit, when you take into account he was sold for 80 million, you’ve really got a 40 million pound loss.

    Who wants owners like that?

  8. Henry

    April 1, 2011 at 5:38 am

    I had to know when I saw the title that this would be written by somebody who knows absolutely nothing about football or the club. The fact that he says he is a passionate fan and proceeds to call us “Man U” shows that.

    Stick to the ice hockey and baseball guys.

    Only those of you who have followed the club passionately and have watched them become a powerhouse into a debt ridden, cost cutting, selling club can understand. Those who saw their season ticket prices increase massivley all the while that increased revenue going to service a debt inflicted upon us, rather than being reinvested into the football team would understand. (Before you start, Vidic, Evra, Nani etc were signed with cash surpluses already existant prior to the takeover, and also at a time when the economic situation was good.

    The Glazers are not astute businessmen, they are just another in a long list of global cowboys purchasing assets with other peoples money during the good times. . . . and who are now up sh!t creek without a paddle when things have gone bad. They are destroying the club, debts and bonsds mature in a few years, and when that happens they will wander off with all our money while administrators pick through the bones of what is left of our great club.

    • The Gaffer

      April 1, 2011 at 6:32 am

      Kevin has supported Manchester United all his life and lives in England. As far as I know, he’s never stepped foot in America.

      The Gaffer

      • Henry

        April 1, 2011 at 7:25 am

        And he still calls them Man U? Thats even worse!

        • El Tri 2014

          April 1, 2011 at 10:05 am

          Maybe he wants to secretly rename the team to the Newton Heath Gold Devils?

          Seriously though, I would move to have a Barcelona type leadership – not to mimic FCB for mimicking sake, but to have the most solid and secure type leadership that will continue the Man Utd. success. And it may be safe to say that the Glazers don’t have that Midas touch unless they do sell the club to Qatar for 1.5 Billion? Would be nice, just saying.

          Still, if you want to argue about the recent lost titles then you have to consider the Russian Roman who bankrolled Chelsea’s titles. That and Cristiano’s 80 Million exit to RM. Those two factors have had signifcant effect.

          • Henry

            April 2, 2011 at 12:48 am

            El Tri.

            Please point out, who the Russian signed in the last 3 years??

            2010, was a season their for the taking of any half decent team, yet we came 2nd. Many thousands will get pacified (for now) if we manage to win the league this year, which I think is beyond us given our squad and the fact we are still involved in 3 competitions; but rest assured, there is still thousands, if not millions who want nothing more than those leeches out, and they consist of mostly the hardcore. End of!

          • King Eric

            April 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm

            I love the Bundesliga’s 50+1 rule. Their model is a great one to follow and look what it has done for the development of their national team with all of the domestic players. Football is about football, it’s not meant to be a business or be profitable, but you get all of these businessmen who don’t know enough about the sport or history, or have any real love for the game trying to force it as a business and make their money and run.

        • Kevin Harris

          April 2, 2011 at 8:31 pm

          Henry, I am a season ticket holder in the Stretford End and have supported the club my entire life. I do not refer to the club as “Man U” at an point in the article. Please get your facts right befpre making such allegations.

          Chris – I came over to Florida in 1993 for a fortnight and need to come back

  9. John Gregory

    March 31, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    How much of the hate towards the Glazers is just because they’re Americans?

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      April 1, 2011 at 12:53 am

      It’s minimal… look at how Sky was treated when they tried to buy United in 1998ish…

      • Kevin Harris

        April 2, 2011 at 8:27 pm

        If most fans are honest, the problem with a club with so many supporters is that the majority share the view that absolutely no person is good enough to own “they’re” club. The Glazer’s need United to remain successful in order for the business model to work. On the flip-side, City/Chelsea rely entirely on the interests of one key individual at the top to endorse transfers, dismiss staff members and to occasionally get involved in the coach’s team selection. The Glazer’s are sensible enough to support the manager 100% and, according to Sir Alex, he could not be happier. One wonders if he would have been sacked had Mansour/Abramovich/Qatari Sheikh owned the club for failing to win the title by 1 point in 2009-2010…

  10. tonyspeed

    March 31, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Since this obviously crazy writer wants to talk figures let’s look at some real figures. Since the BPL was formed here are the list of titles MU has won:
    1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09

    Notice that from 1992 to 2003 we have a solid winning streak. Then we lost the 04-05, 05-06,09-10 campaigns. Now the question is when did the Glazers buy out Man Utd? 2005. The glazers got stake in the company in 2003. So since the glazers have touched manchester united, we have started losing league titles. Before, we had lost none. Does this have any real meaning? You tell me. But don’t throw out dumb figures that have no meaning.

    • King Eric

      April 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      well played, thank you.

    • Kevin Harris

      April 2, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      The Glazer’s took full ownership of the club in the summer of 2005, therefore the title has not been won in only 2 of the seasons since the buy-out. I do not advocate that the Glazer’s have magically brought success to the club, I am stating that a model whereby the majority of United’s purported 333 million supporters worldwide have a voice i the running of the club will end the supply of trophies.

      Even if the supporters have no voting powers, and the club is owned by 20 plus mega-rich individuals, do you think these successful business people will not all have their own power-agenda and differences of opinion on the running of the club? What if 12 choose Mourinho as Ferguson’s successor and the other 8 have personal issues with the new manager! I can see the leaks to the press of unrest within the club, with the manager consistently falling out with board members. Better the Devil you know…

  11. tonyspeed

    March 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    United was winning before the Glazers and will continue to win after them. Stop the dumb strawman arguments about winning. Manchester United has never needed the Glazers to win. If won before them and it will win after them. But it might need them to lose. All of the would-be profits of Manchester United are being sucked into interest payments and the rest is being sucked off the top by the Glazer’s self-payment. Last time I checked the balance sheets we lost money this year. And it will only get worse unless those dirty Glazers pay off the debts.
    Let’s look at this rationally. You’re living with mom and dad. Someone tells your parents they will take over your parents debts but you can keep living there as long as they get some profits from the sale of the house. Ok. Sounds fine. Until you realise that they bought the house using variable rate loans whose interest rate has grown prohibitively high and you find out that those loans are backed by your property and everything you own.

    Bottom line, until the Glazers pay off the debt, they are scum.

  12. SeminoleGunner

    March 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I don’t really get the massive beef with the Glazers either. Yes, the debts aren’t exactly good, but would you rather have Arsenal’s financial stability and empty trophy case?

    You can’t mock other clubs’ youth and lack of depth out of one side of your mouth, and then complain about the debt that has provided you with veteran stars and a deep team out of the other.

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      March 31, 2011 at 11:30 pm

      “the debts aren’t exactly good, but would you rather have Arsenal’s financial stability and empty trophy case?”

      The annual payments of_45 million_for interest to service the debt is a HUGE burden on United. The United trophy is full because of the Genius of Fergie and pre-Glazer players (Ferdinand, Rooney, Ronaldo).

      In the long term, we cannot support “buying” 45 million of debt EVERY year that should be spent on keeping talent (i.e., wages) or bringing in new talent (i.e., transfers) or improving staff, stadium, or lowering ticket prices for the fans…

      Anyone who supports the Glazers is a lazy fan with short-term interest and little knowledge of the history of Leeds…

      Love United. Hate Glazers.

      • swee

        April 1, 2011 at 12:00 am

        while i get your point of ‘cannot support “buying” 45 million of debt EVERY year ‘ and that ‘we won because of ‘pre-Glazer players’, i think we cannot totally point the finger at glazers and saying they haven’t supported the club; we bought smalling, bebe, hernandez and have youth players coming up. Sure, they are not big name signing like torres or suarez, but the club is doing perfectly fine now.

        i think fergie’s style in the transfer market could be aptly put as ‘value driven’. and with prices skyrocketing (carrol), perhaps fergie is the one who isnt willing to spend, not the glazers.

        but having said that, of course it would be better to be debt free.

        note: i’m not arguing about whether we should hate glazers, i’m just saying that perhaps fergie is the one who feels that the time is not right to splash out, and that is why we feel that the debt is a burden.

        • [OPTI]Madschester United

          April 1, 2011 at 1:00 am

          I love value-driven transfer success stories you mentioned (like Schmeichel and Solskjær back in the day; though, Bebe looks like he gots ways to go before being near Chicharito)…

          What I mind is the Debt and enormous interest payments, which is the product of having the bastard Glazers… they will bring down the club over the long run as competition increases (see Tottenham, Chelsea, and City). If you cannot compete long-term, that is a problem, and (without Fergie) I cannot see United compete long-term with the 45 million pound annual debt payments… regardless of how they are spent, surely paying interest is the least productive

      • King Eric

        April 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm

        +1, nail on the head, thank you!

  13. Cious

    March 31, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    United fans do in fact have legitimate gripes about their team and its financial situation

    With that said, 90% of United fans can’t actually tell others in substance why they hate the Glazers. They know NOTHING about debt (other than it means someone owes another an amount) yet because other United fans yell at the Glazers, they think it is cool to do that as well

  14. Andrei

    March 31, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    How about just ignoring them?

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      March 31, 2011 at 11:24 pm

      Can’t ignore the elephant in the room… the debt needs to be lowered drastically before I can ignore the Glazers…

  15. Moose9t9

    March 31, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Is this a joke?

  16. DomiNate

    March 31, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    SFA gets 100% support and they are winning. I’d say YES, support the Glazers. Or at least ignore them until Man U start losing.

    What happened with the Qatari buyout? Is that dead?

  17. trickybrkn

    March 31, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    The Glazer noise has been a constant since they took over from the Magners.

    And frankly as a person who doesn’t support the club, sounds petty and empty considering the success they have brought to the club…
    That said, there is something to be said about the Barcelona model. Well at least a lesson to be learned from Barca. They found themselves 470 million Euros in debt, a new TV contract not in the works till 2015, and revenue down. So they elected a new president, who attacked the debt. The sold the Kit right to Qatar for 160 million Euros for something like 10 years, they are working with Nike on special edition kits… etc etc etc… They are doing what really the US Congress should be doing. Growing revenue not cutting spending.

    man U support can’t really complain that they haven’t brought in players… in fact they brought in players sight unseen (Bebe)… They can’t complain they haven’t won, cause they just have… and they can’t complain that the debt will effect long term play, cause Man U has worked the increase revenue v cutting spending model.

    Norwich may well be in the PL next season, away to man U could be a confusing day for everyone involved.

    • Evan

      March 31, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      “They are doing what really the US Congress should be doing. Growing revenue not cutting spending.”
      Terrible comparison.

      • Trickybrkn

        March 31, 2011 at 10:15 pm

        Up the Robin Hood Tax.

    • brn442

      April 1, 2011 at 12:42 am

      “considering the success they have brought to the club” Trickybrkn – really? Go have a lay down fella.

      • trickybrkn

        April 1, 2011 at 5:58 pm

        what more do you want?


        what a stupid comment.

  18. [OPTI]Madschester United

    March 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Business and football do not go hand in hand. Fans want entertainment and good players (risk is not minimized by fans). Businesses want profit (minimize risks).

    Without the Glazers it would be straightforward to set up a model similar to Barcelona’s ownership model where fans vote for a President. Just because fans own a club doesn’t mean they decide the day-to-day running of it.

    Love United. Hate Glazers!

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      March 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      The increase in commercial revenue is done to minimize the effect the fans could have on Glazer profits….

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