The Glazer family have claim to be the most hated family in all of Manchester. Well, at least the red side of the city.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS are seemingly on the cusp of buying out a 25% share of the club and will supposedly claim full sporting control. Sadly, for the vast majority of United fans, 25% means that 75% of the club they adore still belongs to the Glazers. According to The Athletic article, “if, as expected, INEOS’ bid is a 50-50 split between Class A and Class B shares, then their 25 per cent stake is unlikely to equate to no more than five per cent of the voting power at board level”. Therefore, United are still stuck with the Floridians for the foreseeable future.
So, what are the three main features of doing business with the Glazers?
Indifference to United fan opinion
Anti-Glazer sentiment has never been much of a concern for the American family. The brothers of Joel and Avram have constantly taken decisions that show a shocking disinterest in what the local supporter wants. This was so brutally exposed during the Glazers’ prominent role in signing up Man United to the European Super League fiasco, as reported by The Peoples Person at the time in 2021.
Furthermore, when buying the club in 2005, they were well aware of the fan outrage as some supporters took to buying stock to try and stop the takeover going through. One source close to the deal stated, “they thought they knew about fans and that all you had to do to satisfy them was win games”. Eighteen years of protest, most clearly seen in the pitch invasion of Old Trafford that saw the club’s game with Liverpool in 2021 called off before it even started, would suggest they were wrong.
Money Money Money
Whilst fan engagement was never a priority, the Americans’ true intentions soon became clear. When entering the club, the new owners soon ripped up deals with brands like Vodafone. Before the Americans, Manchester United looked to make deals with companies that they felt shared similar values and connections. The telecommunications company was viewed as a recognised name offering an excellent price but also, its branding was red, which matched the club’s kit. The Glazers in contrast, just saw dollar signs and thought the previous sponsorship deal was a massive undersell. They would go on to sign a deal with AIG worth a record £56m at the time.
Their thirst for extracting every penny from the club met no end. Such fanciful ideas that showed a downright disregard for the club’s history and tradition included floating a club-branded balloon through the streets of Manhattan as part of department store Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Another such money-spinning concoction was offering a so called “fantasy package” where the rich could train and mix with the team, as long as they paid for the privilege.
While none of these ideas ever came to pass, the incredible debt loaded on the club while the Tampa Bay owners have continued to fill their pockets is a clear indication of what they really saw the club has, a cash cow.
Hoarding of power
Another key aspect of Glazer philosophy is secrecy and the hoarding of power. This can be seen in all facets of how they run the club. This is most obvious to fans with the incredibly slow dealings and indecision in the transfer market they have had to endure over the years. Another clear example is the seemingly endless takeover battle between Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe. If Jassim had not pulled out, it is anybody’s guess what the current situation would look like.
One source claimed that when it comes to major decisions, “the Glazers would take it away, sit on it, discuss it as a family, and you would hear nothing for months.” However, the American family’s inability to delegate can also be seen at lower levels in the club.
Staff responsible for ticketing at Old Trafford once spent weeks working on a ticketing price campaign, to suddenly be dictated to what the prices for the new season would be via e-mail. This is Glazer efficiency and trust in others in a nutshell.
All in all, theirs is a tale of greed, obsessive control and indifference to fan opinion. It is eighteen years of the Glazer family slowly but surely, gnawing away at the soul of Manchester United.