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An Open Letter to Joel Glazer

Dear Joel Glazer,

Over the last three days or so, I have been angry, annoyed and left discontented. I felt like the club that I have supported for much of my life had been taken away from me with not even the chance for to state what I wanted to see from the club. In fact, since your father, Malcom Glazer took over Manchester United in 2005, the bad feeling has grown considerably.

You may feel that you have the club’s best interests as an owner, but the truth is that you have continuously confirmed that you do not care. You and your stooges have tried to direct the club into a non-competitive European Super League that you felt would attract the supporters and line your pockets, however there was no attraction to your greedy scheme.

You see, as a Manchester United supporter, to play the best clubs in Europe, it needs to be earned. To do this, you need to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, then be drawn against these clubs. This is the magic of European football. The supposed Super League that you helped to create would have been a meaningless pre-season tournament played as mid-week matches during the season. The league would have no history, magic or anything else besides greed, which is why it failed.

The one thing your greed did not allow you to do was consult the supporters of the club, along with your peers and this is why you have become an architect of a failed money-making opportunity – which is exactly what this was. You see, in the European Super League, there would be no desire to win, no desire to achieve and certainly no desire to have the best players playing for the club. It would have been stagnant and boring. But you only care about the money, which is the only area your interest is present.

Your open letter to Manchester United supporters was only written because of the pressure and the backlash that has come off your failed scheme to take more and more money away from this game – the English game which is embedded into the very society in this country. You also talked about the deep loyalty of the supporters of the club. If you had any loyalty at all to anything but cold, hard cash, you would have addressed the supporters of the club a lot sooner – this also seems to be the first time you have recognised that we actually exist. I mean, you knew we did exist but in the form of numbers on a spreadsheet that you could manipulate to increase revenues.

We are more than that. We are the very heart and soul of this football club. Without us, you would own something that would cost more to upkeep than you would earn from it. From the past dealings of the Glazer family and the continuous snatch and grab from the club in the manner of share sales, it is clear that you as a family are only interested two things; control and money.

In your open letter, you have apologised unreservedly for what you have done. That apology does not make amends and never will. You also stated that you wanted to rebuild trust with the supporters of the club. But that is one thing you never actually had – the trust of the supporters. From the day your father took over the club, with a leveraged takeover, securing all debt to the club, we knew that it was all about money. Greed is never a good thing and I personally see your family as greedy. You do not care about this football club as you very rarely attend any matches. I am talking pre-pandemic here.

As an owner of the club, you do not seem to want to invest your own money into the club – just borrow money and leverage it on the club. That is not sustainable. I speak for myself here, but also millions of other people will resonate – but your family is the worst thing that has ever happened to this football club. That is what it is – a football club. It is not a personal bank for your family and it is not a play thing. I am not a hateful person but I despite everything I have seen over the past 16 years from your family.

I am glad that Ed Woodward will be stepping down, but it should be sooner rather than later. He has been a mere continuation of your greed. At the start he was good at the commercial side of the business, signing new sponsors, advertising space and everything else involved in the marketing of the club. I understand why that is here and understand that it needs to be. But for a non-footballing man to be in charge of the football side, I am ashamed that it took eight years for him to realise that he was not cut out for the task. All he has done is lie to supporters and underachieve, also overpay for players who were not a good fit for the club. He was even responsible for three managers of the club who were all fired by him. It is a legacy of failure on the footballing side.

For Manchester United to rise from the ashes of this debacle, it needs to be with footballing people in charge of the club, not greedy, money-hungry stooges. I only hope that you will allow people into the club that have the best interests of the club at heart – but then again I am talking about owners who do not care in the slightest about footballing achievement.

As a Manchester United supporter, I would like to see the club build upon the success of this season and challenge for the Premier League title, which the club last won in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge. United have finished second once but they did not challenge Manchester City that season. I would also like to see the club consistently qualify for the UEFA Champions League, which is a competition (despite the name change) that eight of the clubs players died travelling home from a match in Belgrade. This is why the moral fibre of the club is so intertwined in that competition which you happily would have seen the club walk away from, showing a blatant disregard to those who died and those who rose from the ashes and won the trophy a decade later. This is important for this club but you and your greed has upset the apple cart and left a bad feeling not only in English football but across the world. You have brought shame on this club.

The best way for the club to earn its respect again would be if your family were nothing to do with this football club. For 16 years now there has been consistent discontent against the Glazer family and what you have done to this institution. You have never fully backed any manager. Always strived to get the cheaper options and I don’t think you realise that if Manchester United are winning Premier League titles, FA Cup trophies, League Cup trophies, the UEFA Champions League, then playing on the international stage in the FIFA Club World Cup, it creates a great marketing opportunity for the club. Winning trophies means success both on the pitch and in the boardroom. The number of impressions on social media is not success.

With the Glazer family in charge of Manchester United, there seems to be a glass ceiling that can never be penetrated. Your family do not want this football club to find success on the pitch, not if it means that your profits are cut. It is best that you start to find a way of selling the club and not be greedy about it. The mere fact that your father took over this club without a single cent of his own money is very telling. The debt is still very much a problem for the club and for that reason, the selling price should be something that is competitive – and if you did sell the club, it would only be fair that the debt would be cleared from your share of the profits as without your family the debt would not even be there.

Manchester United supporters are sick and tired of your name, your greed and the blatant discontent that you have continued to deliver at this football club. I personally, am sick and tired of seeing your fake interest in the club and the lack of any real direction back onto the road of success. For years now, the Glazers have held Manchester United back in this competitive world of football. You will probably suggest that the club has seen successful under your ownership but that was all because of one clever man – Sir Alex Ferguson. If you wanted to keep the club successful, money would be no factor in bettering the squad and solving the issues that we can still see on the pitch.

I am not interested in trusting you because it is not something that I will ever do. I am sure there are people that feel the same way as me here. I don’t want to see you try to right the wrongs as it will be done to try and get back on an even keel so you can continue taking the cream from the club. Your ownership is negative to this club and it needs to end. Your greed has opened up a can of worms here. Everything that people have been saying for 16 years has become true. You don’t care about Manchester United – just what you can take from the club. The club is just a cash cow for your family. When the money stops rolling in, you will never sustain the club out of your own pocket. 16 years of bad ownership has confirmed that.

Old Trafford was once one of the best stadiums in England and now the problems have been painted over – seemingly hoping for the best. Good owners will do what is necessary for Manchester United to continue but your family just are not interested. But they are happy to profit from the club. This is sheer greed. I am not alone in saying that the Glazers should leave Manchester United. I hope that the Government of this country can do something to help kick greedy owners like you from this game. You are not needed or wanted. You are just saying what you are saying as your scheme failed and you have no other direction to turn.

The sooner the Glazer family have sold this club, the better. Of course, the supporters of the club will not just accept anyone. We did that back in 2005 and look what we ended up with.

Written by John Walker

Love United Hate Glazer: The statistics behind the sentiment

“There’s no value in the transfer market”The words that Sir Alex Ferguson uttered on multiple occasions during his tenure serving under the Glazer’s stewardship. A similar sentiment was continuously conveyed by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, following the purchase of their outlandish Emirates Stadium.

Both of these veteran managers had their hands tied by the powers that be, with Wenger especially even getting some of the blame for Arsenal’s lack of activity in the transfer market. In financial terms, Arsenal’s inability to invest following their transition to the Emirates is slightly logical. The total cost of constructing their new home was a staggering £390 million, which in the current economic climate would amount to £554 million.

It’s therefore understandable that Arsenal’s dealings in the transfer market were limited, following the 2006 rehousing of their club. However, in United’s case, the lack of investment in the eyes of many, is down to the perceived financial restraints imposed by their infamous owners. 

The widespread consensus among the Manchester United fanbase is a very poignant one: the Glazer family have inflicted debt upon the club, while providing scarce amounts of Sterling to bolster United’s squad. The bad news for the Glazer family is the financial statistics largely support this notion. In relation to debt, United’s debt stood at £0 in 2003, when the club was still owned by Martin Edwards. Just two years later, following the beginning of the Glazer era, the debt had astronomically risen to £558.9 million.

In the following four years, United’s on the pitch endeavours were close to perfection. In the period from 2006 to 2009, the Red Devil’s won three consecutive Premier League trophies, as well as the most desired trophy in club football: the UEFA Champions League. However, in 2009, the sale of United’s star asset Cristiano Ronaldo, well and truly burst the bubble of success. In the seasons preceding the Portuguese’s departure, the winger’s performances were stupendous.

In the 2007/08 season, Ronaldo scored an outrageous 42 goals, helping United to win the two most coveted trophies; the Premier League and the Champions League. Furthermore, Ronaldo obtained the award for the best player on the planet, the ‘Ballon d’Or’. While Ronaldo’s departure hit Sir Alex Ferguson’s on-pitch endeavours hard, the transfer ignited a chain of events that decimated the reputation of the Glazer family.

Manchester United received a world record £80 million from Real Madrid for the Portuguese’ services, and in the days following speculation was rife over who United would sign to replace their star asset. The investments that followed, were to tarnish the Glazer’s reputation forever. 

In spite of obtaining £80 million from their star player, United spent a measly £27 million in the market. The arrivals of Antonio Valencia for £17 million, Gabriel Obertan for £3.6 million, Mame Biram Diouf for £4 million and Michael Owen on a free transfer, was met with disbelief by United fans and mockery by fans of rival teams. The net spend of United totalled up at a profit of £69.36m, a figure which was an indictment on the perceived questionable motivations of the owners. 

Furthermore, the 2009 annual earnings of Manchester United stood at €366.24 million, meaning just 7.3% of the club’s earnings were injected into the transfer kitty. However, the contrasting investments of their immediate Premier League rivals papered over the cracks at United. Liverpool forked out £18 million on a questionable signing in Alberto Aquilani, in an attempt to plug the gap in midfield created by Xabi Alonso’s departure to Real Madrid.

The only notable acquisition made by Chelsea was Yuri Zhirkov, a commendable signing, but not the type of signing that sent shivers down the spine of United fans. This meant that there wasn’t an overtly catastrophic effect on United, illustrated by the fact they obtained a respectful second position the following season. While Chelsea and Liverpool’s transfers were uninspiring, there was a big long-term threat to United’s dominance much closer to home.

Their revamped rivals Manchester City, poached one of their star players, Carlos Tevez. This signified the first significant shift in financial power between the two Manchester clubs, and it only added to the woes of United. While United’s on-pitch performances didn’t suffer significantly in the following season, the Glazer’s PR did. A constant throughout the 2009/10 was the presence of green and gold attire, to represent the origins of Manchester United, Newton Heath.

This protest at the Glazer’s ownership hit its peak in March 2010, when former United star David Beckham wore an anti-Glazer scarf following a Champions League tie at Old Trafford. The fact that even Beckham, a global phenomenon backed the anti-Glazer movement was seen as a significant moment in the protests.

However, ultimately the protests were ineffective, and the momentum died down. A minority of fans had gone to the extent of forming a new football club, named FC United of Manchester. The formation of this new entity represents the level to which fans felt United’s identity had been betrayed. 

In the closing months of 2010, the Glazer’s reputation was damaged even further. In the annual financial statistics published by Manchester United, the debt surrounding the club had risen to £777.9 million. Statistically speaking, this was a 39.1% increase in United’s debt. This damning statistic embodies the immoral nature of the Glazer ownership, and the pejorative impact the American owners had on United’s finances.

While United’s finances suffered, the success of the squad continued. The 2010/11 saw United clinch their 19th title, overtaking their adversary in Liverpool. Just two years later, United were Premier League champions again, by a romping 11 point margin. However, their emphatic title win was overshadowed by the departure of their illustrious manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. Equally damaging to United was the exit of the Red Devils’ chief executive, David Gill.

As a result, Everton manager David Moyes was appointed as the first post-Ferguson manager, and Ed Woodward was promoted to the position of Chief executive. These two devastating departures came to the fore in September 2013 when David Moyes obtained only a singular signing, the Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini. A combination of a lack of transfer activity and the perceived incompetence of both Woodward and Moyes resulted in a disastrous seventh-placed finish for United, their lowest for 26 years.

In the aftermath of a car crash of a season, questions were once again asked regarding the lack of investment from the Glazer family. However, upon the arrival of Louis Van Gaal, United spent big in the window. A total of £175 million was injected into the squad, with big name signings such as Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao representing a real statement of intent from United.

This was a drastic increase in the financial power the Glazers provided, however, the motive surrounding it was questionable. It could be argued that challenging for titles wasn’t the Glazer’s motivation, but instead obtaining a place in the Champions League. This is due to the financial reward a place in the Champions League provides, illustrated by the fact that qualification for the group stage instantly generates €15 million.

Furthermore, United’s commercial revenue is helped by participation in the Champions League. The notion of the Glazer family settling for Champions League qualification was emphasised by the patterns of spending in the Jose Mourinho era. In Mourinho’s first season in which United did not qualify for the Champions League, £166 million was invested in the market, with United even breaking the world transfer record to sign Paul Pogba.

However, two years later, following a respectable second place finish, Mourinho was only provided with £74 million. This was in spite of United’s desperate need for a centre half, which Mourinho passionately outlined on many occasions. As a result of United’s failure to purchase a centre-back, Mourinho grew increasingly disillusioned and departed the club just four months into the season. The lack of a centre half’s arrival also confirmed to the notion that Ed Woodward was purely interested in signings that generated sponsorship revenue, which was emphasised by the pursuit of Raphael Varane.

The evidence of the last 14 years of the Glazer family’s ownership of Manchester United suggests there is a tangible need for change. The ‘#GlazerOut’ movement has gained significant traction in recent weeks, and the sentiment behind it is entirely justified. While the Glazer family is at the helm, it seems inconceivable that United will challenge for illustrious silverware such as the Premier League and the Champions League.

While United’s arch-rivals Manchester City and Liverpool are obtaining the most coveted trophies, Manchester United are falling into an abyss of mediocrity. The anti-Glazer movement must continue to be substantial, otherwise, the soul of Manchester United may be irreparably damaged.

Written by Alexei Braithwaite

copyright: JW