When Malcolm Glazer and his family took over at Manchester United in 2005, nobody was pleased. In 2003 Malcolm Glazer only held a 3% stake in the club and was not perceived as a threat but by June 2005 his stake had risen to 98% and he in effect gained total control of the club.
So disgusted were some that the club lay in the hands of a business man and not the fans, a breakaway team was formed by disgruntled fans and FC United of Manchester were born. Meanwhile at Old Trafford things were rosy as talk of money to spend for Sir Alex Ferguson, who was offered a contract extension, as well as new lucrative contracts with Nike and AIG and a stadium expansion made it seem that things would remain the same at United.
On field, United were the same as we continued to win and since the takeover have gone on to pick up a number of trophies including the Premier League numerous times and the Champions League. But behind the scenes Glazer was slowly crippling the club with debts he accrued in purchasing the club ($850m). This would come to light through an increase in prices at Old Trafford, where tickets for example have risen by over 42% since his takeover (12.3% then 14% then 11%). Yet slowly what is occurring in the boardroom is spilling out onto the pitch.
Last week it was revealed Manchester United had only posted a pre-tax profit of £48.2m because of the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid, had the Portuguese play not been sold United would have posted a loss of £31.8m further crippling the club. This isn’t to say that Ronaldo was sold to clear debt as the player clearly wanted to leave but it is a potential reason as to why Fergie has not spent in order to strengthen the team as well as Wayne Rooney being linked with a move away from the club.
Prior to the January transfer window opening Ferguson said he has money to spend and has even reiterated this point this month. But could this just be spin from the public face of the club? United could do with bringing in some new faces especially as the level of competition in the Premiership has risen. Ferguson has claimed that he does not see value in the current market but in trying to keep up with your competition regardless of value you must spend.
Duncan Drasdo, chairman of MUST (Manchester United Supporters Trust) hit the nail on the head when he said,
“The tide is turning at Old Trafford as fans see how much the takeover has cost, the increased ticket prices and the failure to invest in the team despite £81m received from selling Cristiano Ronaldo. We do not want the Glazers to refinance the massive debts they have brought to the club — we want them to go.”
A financial document released from he Glazers last week shed light on just how much they had benefited from the purchase of the club with 6 of Malcolm’s children each borrowing £1.66m from the club each to the tune of £10m (just enough to purchase Adem Ljajic!) in December 2008 yet whilst they are benefiting the club is suffering. When questioned on this borrowing of money from the club the Glazer family would not comment but their silence speaks louder than any words they could utter.
The Glazers are treating Manchester United as merely a means of lining their pockets and amidst talk of them selling Old Trafford and Carrington, they are slowly killing off a club with a very rich history not only in British but world football.