The Glazer family’s ownership of Manchester United has long caused controversy ever since their leveraged buyout of the club in 2005.
Supporters have endured some tough times by United’s standards in recent years, with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool establishing themselves as worthy title competitors ahead of the Red Devils.
However, there appears to be some hope that United could return to their old glorious ways with the news that the Glazers may finally be ready to step away from the club.
Man Utd have confirmed the club could be sold as the Glazers ‘consider all strategic alternatives’.
“Manchester United plc announces today that the Company’s Board of Directors is commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club,” a statement read.
“The process is designed to enhance the club’s future growth, with the ultimate goal of positioning the club to capitalize on opportunities both on the pitch and commercially.
“As part of this process, the Board will consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the Company.
“This will include an assessment of several initiatives to strengthen the club, including stadium and infrastructure redevelopment, and expansion of the club’s commercial operations on a global scale, each in the context of enhancing the long-term success of the club’s men’s, women’s and academy teams, and bringing benefits to fans and other stakeholders.”
Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer added: “The strength of Manchester United rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers.
“As we seek to continue building on the Club’s history of success, the Board has authorized a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives.
“We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the Club today and in the future.
“Throughout this process we will remain fully focused on serving the best interests of our fans, shareholders, and various stakeholders.”
The Raine Group, who facilitated the recent sale of Chelsea, will act as United’s financial advisors throughout any selling process.
The Glazer family took control of Manchester United in 2005, with the club having been debt free since the 1930s, when James Gibson saved the institution from bankruptcy.
While on-field success was still forthcoming when Sir Alex Ferguson was still in charge of a side challenging for and winning titles domestically and in Europe, off-pitch matters started to pile up.
The club’s debut immediately rose to £660m as the Glazers used loans to finance the takeover against United’s assets, effectively hamstringing the club with money being taken out of it. An estimated sum of £1.6bn has been taken out of the club over the years, in excess of £740m being used for interest on debt, another £147m paying for debt repayments, £166m in dividends and nearly £80m in director remuneration and management fees. That’s a lot of money.
Key Glazer figures
Avram Glazer is United’s current co-chairman and director. He is not overly involved in the day-to-day running of Man Utd and was the subject of fierce jeers when he made a rare stadium appearance at the 2022/23 opening day defeat to Brighton. He inherited an empire of real estate from late father Malcolm and part owns NFL team Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have won the Super Bowl twice during the family’s tenure.
Joel Glazer is United’s executive co-chairman and director. He takes a more hands-on approach with United and is seen as the more committed Glazer sibling to the club. He is also said to sanction all major player dealings in and out of the club. Joel is also co-owner of the Bucs in Tampa, but additionally serves as a co-chairman alongside brothers Bryan and Edward. Sister Darcie Glazer Kassewitz is co-owner and president of the NFL franchise. Kevin is co-owner but not co-chairman.
Bryan, Edward, Darcie and Kevin are all non-executive directors on the Manchester United Ltd board.
The Glazer family have been the targets of many fan protests from Man Utd supporters over the years, especially over the past decade following the club’s on-pitch decline.
A lack of foresight has been attributed to the owners, especially with regards to player signings and managerial appointments. A huge amount of incoming transfers at Old Trafford have been misses, leading to the current rebuild that new manager Erik ten Hag is attempting to oversee.
Their interest in a proposed European Super League also drew the wrath of United fans – alongside most supporters around the world – and protests have been regular at games in Manchester in recent seasons.
A group of Red Devils supporters broke into Old Trafford in 2021 when Covid-19 restrictions were still in place in the United Kingdom, while a march on the club’s ground also took place in August 2022 before a victory over rivals Liverpool. Chants of ‘We want Glazers out’ could be heard.
There has also been no shortage of drama since Cristiano Ronaldo’s return. Fans were slightly in favour of the Portugal international’s return during a 2021 summer window where things seemed to be on the up for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but he was sacked months into the season and replaced with Ralf Rangnick, who would oversee the end of the club’s worst ever Premier League campaign before leaving without the director role he was previously offered.
Old Trafford is in dire need of modernisation, while the Carrington training base is also outdated and in need of some upgrading.