by Farah Hussein
‘Love United, Hate Glazer’, ‘Green and gold till the glazers sell or fold’ or, most succinctly of all, ‘We want Glazers out’. These are the words Manchester United fans have been reiterating since 2003. So let’s give the situation a look from the beginning…
It all started in 2003, when Malcolm Glazer bought a 2.9% stake in the club and steadily began to accumulate more. The stake eventually reached 75% and a month later 98% in 2005. It was clear that once Malcolm Glazer had bought the club he would transfer all his debt onto it and there was opposition from all concerned with the strong resistance not confined to just the terraces. Every time the Glazers would launch a bid for the club, it was rejected by the board because his business plan appeared to be too “aggressive”.
His offers were also rejected in reference to the fact that his plans relied too much on borrowed money. The club’s chief executive David Gill said that Malcolm Glazer’s plan was “potentially damaging” to the club since Mr Glazer would cause the club to fall into £300m worth of debt but despite this on May 17th 2005 the American won control of Manchester United in a £790m takeover bid.
This development was of course not taken well by fans, and they reacted with protests, green and gold shirts and scarves, anti-Glazers chants and much more. They knew what selling the club to the Glazers would mean and they were worried. They feared that the ticket prices would go up and suspected (correctly) a downturn in player investment. The inability to spend a lot on players has since become a serious issue for United.
Even Shareholders United president Nick Towle said that he was giving up his season ticket not wanting to benefit the Glazers. “I’m not putting a penny into this guy [Malcolm Glazer]’s pocket” he said. Certain sections of the support felt exactly the same way.
However, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has repeatedly backed the transfer policy of the Glazers including this quote that removes all doubt – “I am comfortable with the Glazers. They have been great. They have always backed me whenever I asked them. I have never faced any opposition”
Although United haven’t been able to match the spending ability as their neighbours Manchester City nobody is expecting the Glazers to spend as much as their city rivals but it is felt that – as the most valuable club in the world – they must surely be competitive in this regard.
Ferguson also defended his paymasters stating that real fans would realize that the Glazer ownership hasn’t unduly affected the club and that United have won many cups since their arrival. He also stated that he plays 18-year olds because it’s a part of the club’s history, in mixing youth with experience, not because they are unable to spend.
A stark figure that contradicts these claims is that the current estimation of the club’s debt amounts to a total of £720m.
Disillusioned and disenchanted at seeing their beloved club saddled with such ominous arrears some fans were provoked enough to form their own breakaway club FC United of Manchester. They proudly wear the green and gold of the original Newton Heath side that was originally owned by supporters and eventually became the behemoth of the present incarnation at Old Trafford.
Will the reds ever be free of debt again? Will the Glazers ever sell the club? No matter what happens the supporters will forever carry on, united in loving United, united in hating Glazer.