Sports

Liverpool Conquered, But Glazers Still Unwelcome  

Manchester United’s thrilling win on Monday is not going to reduce the loathing fans have towards their American owners, whose business practices have cost the club 743 million pounds in interest.

Manchester United fans protest ahead of their Premier League tie against Liverpool at Old Trafford.
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Manchester United got their mojo back with an exciting 2-1 verdict over Liverpool in the English Premier League on Monday. But nothing, let alone just one victory, is going to endear the club’s owners, the Glazer family, to United loyalists. (More Football News)

The Glazers, owners since 2005, are disliked for reasons ranging from their financial handling of the club to their status as being capitalist outsiders. They bought the club with a notorious leveraged buyout, which has filled their coffers at Manchester United’s expense.

Since 2005, Manchester United have paid 743 million pounds in interest. That’s three-fourths of a billion pounds. It is nearly as much as the remaining 19 clubs of the English Premier League combined.  

Besides, Manchester United have not performed to their standards for almost a decade, since the retirement of their legendary manager, Alex Ferguson, in 2013. In this period, the Red Devils have had five managers, spent nearly a billion dollars on players and yet have not won the English Premier League or the UEFA Champions League, the two titles everyone wants. 

They only have the FA Cup (2016), and the League Cup and Europa League in 2017, to show for themselves in the last decade. These are creditable triumphs, but rank below the UEFA Champions League or the English Premier League in hierarchy.  

The Glazers were somewhat tolerated as long as Manchester United were winning the big titles. But resentment towards them increased in the frustrations of the last nine years. It’s peaked in recent weeks, with the team floundering till the Liverpool game, and Jim Ratcliffe, an English billionaire, expressing interest in buying the club. Before Monday’s match, thousands of fans participated in a protest against the owners.  

Who, exactly, are the Glazers? Why are they despised? Here’s a lowdown. 

Who Are The Glazers? 

The head of the family, the late Malcolm Glazer, was an enterprising man who made his money from various businesses, including real estate, and from a vast portfolio of companies he acquired. Manchester United aside, the family owns the American football team Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Malcolm Glazer first bought shares in Manchester United in 2003. Two years later, he spent almost 790 million pounds to acquire ownership of the club. 

From around 2006, his health went down. The task of the day to day running of the club passed on to his sons Joel and Avram. The pair is now co-chairmen at Old Trafford. After Glazer died in 2014, his remaining 90 per cent controlling stake in Manchester United was shared equally between Joel, Avram and his four other children, Kevin, Bryan, Darcie and Edward, who all hold director positions. 

Why Are They Disliked by Fans?  

For one, the Glazers are American and have little visceral understanding of what Manchester United means. They have not shown much passion for football either. Worse, the way in which they bought the club, with the controversial leveraged buyout method, has proved expensive for the club.  

Things became worse last season when the Glazers and the club’s former CEO, Ed Woodward, widely seen as a Glazers man, supported the lurid European Super League idea. Such was the mass anger over the ESL proposal that anti-Glazer fans stormed the pitch at Old Trafford, resulting in a game getting postponed. 

No Long-Term Strategy   

The lack of managerial continuity has been a big factor behind Manchester United’s barren run over the last many years. Each of the managers since Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 has preferred a different playing style. David Moyes came with a direct approach, while his successor Louis van Gaal (2014-16) believed in possession-based play. Jose Mourinho’s formula was a mix of power and pragmatism (2016-18). Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (2018-21) believed in a counterattacking style. 

Trophies Won Under The Glazers 

Despite everything, the Glazers’ Manchester United resume has some highlights, thanks to the Ferguson era. Since their takeover, United have won five Premier League titles, the 2008 Champions League, four EFL Cups, the Europa League, the FA Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup once each during the period. 

Recent Developments 

According to a Bloomberg report, the Glazer family would consider selling a minority stake in Manchester United. English billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, the CEO of Ineos chemicals group, has expressed interest. “If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer,” a spokesman for Ratcliffe’s company was quoted as saying. 

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