Reports have emerged suggesting the Glazers are set to seek new investment in Manchester United, potentially opening the door to an outright sale and the end of their highly controversial 17-year reign at the club.
The American family took over the club in 2005 and their reign has been marred by fan protests and general disgruntlement at the way in which they have run the club.
Particular umbrage has been taken in recent years at their lack of investment in the team, stadium and training ground while taking dividends out of the club on a yearly basis.
Regular chants demanding the removal of the Glazers can be heard at Old Trafford and disgruntled supporters could be set to get their wish with Sky News reporting that their search for further investment could lead to an outright sale.
Reports state that the family are planning to imminently announce their plans to seek outside investment which could subsequently lead to a bidding war and their sale of the club.
It equally remains a distinct possibility that the club is not sold and partial investment is sought to fund the re-development of Old Trafford and Carrington, the latter of which Cristiano Ronaldo, who has seen his contract at the club terminated as a result of a controversial interview given to Piers Morgan, cited as indicative of the club’s recent decline.
It is that supposed decline, with the club having not won the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013, that has led to many supporters demanding the sale of the club by the Americans.
Similar reports emerged earlier this year, not least in August when Ineos chief Jim Ratcliffe suggested he might buy the club. Since then, however, he has labelled English football clubs overvalued.
Meanwhile, also in August, Sportsmail revealed that the Glazer family had entered into talks with private equity firm Apollo to sell a minority stake in the club. It was reported then that some family members wanted to sell the club amid heightened criticism of their continued ownership.
Other potential suitors are unclear, with the Saudi Public Investment Fund, previously mooted as potential investors in the club, having purchased Newcastle United last summer. There has been a high influx of American investment funds into the British game in recent years. Nine of the 20 clubs in the Premier League have American owners or investors.
Red Knights, a consortium led by former Manchester United director Lord O’Neill, could revive their 2010 bid to take over the club. Liverpool and the Glazer-owned club potentially both opening themselves up for a sale provides a fascinating backdrop for the remainder of the season, potentially initiating a period of tumult at England’s two most successful clubs.
It has been suggested in recent months, that like Liverpool, another major footballing institution that could potentially change hands in the not-too-distant future, the Glazers could look to sell after the collapse of the planned breakaway Super League, which was foiled largely by fan protests in April last year.
In the aftermath of that, Joel Glazer made pledges to supporters to involve them in decisions taken by the club more, as well as promising a revamp of Old Trafford, which has been labelled ‘crumbling’ by a number of significant figures connected to the club.
Another pledge included a promise to provide supporter ownership scheme that would give supporters with shares the same structure of voting rights as the principal owners of the club. In a sign, perhaps, of the emptiness of that promise, the scheme is yet to be initiated, despite it being advertised to start at the beginning of the current season.
The club’s game against Liverpool had to be postponed as a result of the protests, which saw a number of supporters break into the stadium and onto the pitch in the largest act of defiance yet at their ownership.
The Glazers bought the club in 2005 for £790m, in a deal funded largely by debt, another point of contention for many connected to Manchester United. They would expect to make a significant profit on that, with Forbes valuing the club as the third most valuable in the world behind only Real Madrid and Barcelona at £3.9bn.
Were the Glazers compelled into selling the club, it would become the second major English team in a matter of months to be sold after Roman Abramovich was forced into getting rid of Chelsea to Todd Boehly earlier this year as a result of sanctions imposed on the Russian in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
News of a potential sale of Manchester United only heightens the tumultuous nature of the news cycle surrounding the club at present, with their most high profile player, Ronaldo, having seen his contract terminated as a result of his bombshell interview with Morgan.
In the interview, as well as taking aim at the current manager, Erik ten Hag, and various former team-mates, he also planted his tanks on the lawn of the Glazers, saying that they do not care about the club.
‘The owners, the Glazers, they don’t care about the club. I mean, professional sport,’ he said. ‘As you know, Manchester [United] is a marketing club. They’ll get their money from the marketing. The sports… they don’t really care, in my opinion.’
Ronaldo’s comments, and the criticism of their ownership, potentially opens up an interesting debate about whether or not their continued presence at the club is good for their reputation. Amid the controversy surrounding the Qatar World Cup and discussions around sports washing there have been reports of senior Qatari figures questioning whether or not hosting the tournament was a good idea. Continued criticism of their ownership practice could potentially have a similar impact on the Glazers.
Source: Daily Mail Football