The Guardian understands today that the controversial Glazer family are not planning on selling Manchester United for at least another five years.
Their ownership has come under increasing scrutiny this week, following United’s first opening day defeat at Old Trafford in the Premier League era and frustrations over investment intensifying.
The ‘GlazerOut’ hashtag was used well over 100,000 times early this week, and supporters took to Social Media to plan more protests against the Americans ownership of the club. This news will come as a big blow to those plans, as any negative action would now be an exercise in pointlessness.
Following the death of their father, Malcolm Glazer, earlier this year, ownership passed on to the six children of Malcolm (five brothers and one sister). People at the time believed this to be a sign that they may look at selling the club on which they lumbered £700 million worth of debt when buying in 2005. But this is not the case. Forbes magazine valued the club at £1.85 billion, double the £790 million paid, and the floatation on the NYSE earned them a cool £150 million whilst only selling 15% of the club.
Not only this, but United recently signed a record-breaking kit deal with Adidas for £750 million, and currently have 35 sponsorship deals Worldwide, something the Glazers believe will continue. It seems the cash cow they milked almost 10 years ago keeps on giving. Debt has decreased to approximately £295 million, and with a continued growth in revenue, the Glazers are obviously foreseeing soon the debt will be eradicated, and profits will be maximised.
This news will be a real hammer blow to fans who thought cranking up the pressure would result in a sale. Tensions have hit a climax this summer, broken promises and a seemingly incompetent executive vice chairman, Ed Woodward famously helped broker the deal for the Glazers purchase of the club and is seen as acting on their best interests of minimal investments on players, have resulted in fans worldwide seeing red (or green and gold in accordance with the movement).
Failure to invest properly is a major issue, the ramifications of which could damage the club off the pitch as well as on. The lack of Champions League football this season may not make cataclysmic waves, it should just be a blip, but it has already had an effect in attracting the right names. Then factor in Woodward’s laissez fair approach to signing agreements, and things can start going downhill quickly. It does appear on the outside that the Glazers don’t have the greatest foresight.
If things continue the way they are, this situation could well become slightly more permanent. Sponsorships will dry up. The club’s value will plummet. If they are looking to clear the debt for maximum value to then sell, poor performances on the pitch will do nothing to increase value. An example of which can be drawn from the stock market last season. Prices fell under David Moyes, when the prospect of no European football sunk in, and then grew staggeringly when Moyes was sacked and Louis van Gaal was announced. Appointing a World Class manager was a show of intent, investors like intent. But carry on down this road and World Class managers won’t want to touch us with a barge pole. Carry on down this road and van Gaal may well walk out. No World Class managers equals the likes of Tony Pulis or Brendan Rodgers (second class managers) and their appeal worldwide is nil.
Though I may not be a business man, or even have the mindset of one, if I can see that now is a good time to sell, then something must be up. Five years is a long time, waiting that long could be to their detriment. No one can really blame them for not wanting to sell, but with a guaranteed £1.85 billion price tag, they can double their money certainly, rather than wait for football to show it’s fickle nature. Protests may be moot, but the pressure has to be increased, and who knows what will happen exactly, but something has to give.