The Glazers- Manchester United’s Downfall

Updated: Aug 21


The referee whistles for full-time. Brentford 4, Manchester United, 0. 


This is the latest of tragic results for the Red Devils. A side who were once a footballing Goliath crumbled yet again after mistakes from David. The rest of the game, and likely the rest of the week, was followed by a familiar feeling of hopelessness amongst the fans, as they watch their beloved club fall further. Further from titles. Further from the glory that club icons fought so hard for over the decades, from Sir Matt Busby, to Jaap Stam, to Ji-Sung Park.


In the solemn words of the BBC’s Simon Stone, “Just when you think Man Utd can’t get any lower, they dig a bit further down.”



 


Have a scroll on Twitter and you’ll see the newest wave of ‘#GlazersOut’ tweets. These days, the only thing United fans agree on is the issue of ownership, in which the unwavering opinion is that the Glazers should be ousted from the club.

But how?


In this (admittedly lengthy) article, I will attempt to explain why Manchester United fans want the Glazer family out so desperately.


I’d like to say “sit back and relax”, but you may struggle to do so given the topic of conversation, so I hope you find the article informative at the very least.


A final disclaimer before we start is that I have likely missed out on a few different negatives of their ownership, but if you can imagine something a bad owner would do, they’ve probably done it.



 


Background


In 2003, the Glazer family started buying, with a 3.17% stake of the club purchased by Malcolm Glazer, rising to 15% before the New Year. In 2005, they continued to buy, in which they ended the year owning 100% of the football club, valued at the time at £800m. After the club's introduction to the New York Stock Exchange since then, the Glazers no longer own 100% of the club, though of course they still hold the majority.



Issue 1: A Club in Debt


Yes, the Glazer family were wealthy, but not spend-£800m-on-a-club-in-two-years wealthy. So where did the money come from? 


The answer to that is simple: loans.


Without going into heavy detail about the football finance, which gives me just as much of a headache as the next fan, the Glazers bought most of the United by taking out loans against the club rather than buying using their own money, thus plunging it into around £650m of debt instantly, with another £60m per year in interest payments after that.


As of today, the club still sits in around £500m debt and rising, a sum of which we can all agree, is a lot of money. This, combined with their disinterest in paying it off, is a drastic change from the free-of-debt state of the club before the takeover.



Issue 2: Dividends


Another mark against the Glazers’ name is the consistent amount of money taken out of the club. At face value, this seems like a standard procedure for business owners, however as we have seen, football is not like a normal business. On this, Manchester United are the only Premier League club who pays dividends to its owners. 


Six members of the Glazer family who own shares in Manchester United collectively take out 8 figure sums on a regular basis, including £166m since 2016, according to The Athletic. This includes payments made during the COVID pandemic, a time where the club had already reported heavy financial losses.


Overall, the Glazer’s dividends and model of running the club has cost Manchester United around £1.25 billion.


Issue three: Investment, or lack thereof


Aside from the consistent dividends, the Glazers have not invested a single pound into the club from their own money since their takeover.


This was highlighted by the ever-passionate Gary Neville after the Brentford beating, in a conversation where Jamie Redknapp symbolised the ignorance of some people towards the club's issues.


In order to spend money, the club uses its own financial resources. At a basic level, this seems a good business model- you spend what you make. However, this is not suitable for our football club. 


As I write this, I can hear the “United have spent the most in the last ten years” responses- which is technically correct. But there are many issues with this logic, including how the money is spent, and what else could be done.


One problem is that it won’t be useful for very long. As the club gets less and less successful, they receive less revenue. Meanwhile, player prices globally increase and other owners will continue to invest in their clubs, widening the gap. Less success means less players will want to join, meaning recruitment will become even more difficult, therefore decreasing chances of success. It is a brutal cycle.


Though it may seem greedy, a club as big as Manchester United should be looking for more. This is another Glazer problem. In the time they've spent over a billion, more could have been done to improve. Considering the signings made, the owners, who are infamous for a lack of desire for our success, may as well not have spent the money.


Unfortunately, Erik Ten Hag said the opposite in his Liverpool press conference today, in which he said the owners "want to win", something we all know is not true.


Added to this their will to threaten the integrity of football itself in driving the European Super League, you would be misinformed to say United fans aren’t justified in their opinions.

Issue 4- Appointments


Top level football clubs are likely to be owned by billionaires from all over the world, meaning owners can’t be expected to know much about football. This is not an excuse for incompetence though, in which it is their responsibility to hire people that do have adequate knowledge, who would essentially run the club for them. 


This is something the Glazers have repeatedly failed to do. Running the club on a day-to-day basis has been Ed Woodward up until recently, who advised the Glazer family during their takeover in 2005. Since joining in a financial role, the former investment banker progressed into being head of the commercial and media side of the club. He succeeded here, securing more sponsorship deals for the club than ever before, nearly tripling the club’s commercial revenue.


As we know how much the Glazers focus on income, Woodward's success earned him a promotion, this time as Executive Vice Chairman. This gave him control of footballing decisions, a place he had no experience in- a recurring theme amongst Glazer employees. This led to recruitment being heavily based on commercial value, epitomised by the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo.


Woodward has since been replaced by Richard Arnold (and John Murtough),who so far have shown no reason to believe things will be any different, unless you count Arnold’s infamous pub interrogation as progress. This is complimented by Darren Fletcher in a Technical Director role. Though he was a fantastic footballer, he too has no experience in an important role at arguably the world's biggest club.


Matt Judge has been another so-called ‘Glazer puppet’ in recent years. Judge was employed by the Glazers as Head of Corporate Development, though he took full control over transfer and contract negotiations in 2016.


As well as him, the recruitment team has been vastly underwhelming. In the so-called ‘rebuild’ at the end of the season, two of the head scouts were released as well as Matt Judge.


An apt summary of his and the recruitment team’s success is Gary Neville’s transfer ranking visual on Sky Sports last Monday.





This ineptitude is continued by the involvement of the Glazers themselves, who rarely enter the country, let alone Old Trafford. Joel and Avram Glazer occasionally make their thoughts known in important decisions, often ones they have no qualifications to get involved in, again meaning the outcome is based on capital.


It is safe to say that the decision makers at Manchester United are simply not good enough.



 


So, what can be done?


With the Glazers gone and better owners in, it is sure that we’d see many improvements. These would include an improved financial state, better signings, and leaks being fixed from the stadium to the dressing room. 


But how do we get to that point, how do we get our club back?


There are many different fan groups with their respective goals and objectives. However as I mentioned earlier, nearly all Manchester United fans want to remove the owners.


Unity is how it can, and will, be done.


Instead of debating between defenders or arguing over attackers, the real issue at this club needs to remain at the forefront of the discussion.


This is when productive measures are taken. 


Already, fans have shown unity through protests, which are again planned for the Liverpool game next Monday- this time bigger than ever.


The hashtag ‘#EmptyOldTraffordhas been trending, which would announce on the biggest stage that the supporters have had enough.


Mass boycotts have been executed, with fans hitting the Glazers where it hurts as kit sponsorTeamViewer announced they would not be renewing their contract with the club when it expires.


 

With the current owners ruining this beautiful football club, fans need to stand together. 


This passion, is what will remove the Glazers.


This passion, is what makes this club special.


This passion… is Manchester United.





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