It’s been 10 months since the news first broke that the Glazers were actively exploring options to either sell Manchester United or secure new investment. Numerous bids have been placed throughout the club’s months-long acquisition negotiations, with Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe emerging as the two primary takeover candidates.
Several US hedge funds have also come forward as potential minority investors, which would allow the Glazer family to maintain control.
However, in recent weeks, no significant updates have be released, leaving supporters in the dark, following reports of a rift between Joel and Avram Glazer and their other four siblings over the decision to sell the club. This news has helped fuel the growing pessimism among the Red Devil supporters who believe that the Glazers might end up remaining at United.
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The Glazers’ ownership of United has been steeped in controversy since it was first acquired by the family’s patriarch, Malcolm Glazer, for £790 million in 2005. The deal itself was heavily criticized, with Glazer investing just £270 of his own money into the deal, while the rest was uncharacteristically borrowed against the team, burdening the Old Trafford club with more than £500 million worth of debt.
Organized groups like Shareholders United even attempted to block the sale, citing rumors that the club was used to help fund the Glazers’ U.S.-based business ventures, including the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and shopping malls across 20 states.
Since the Glazers have come on board, the club has secured 13 trophies, with United’s former manager, Alex Ferguson, securing five Premier League titles between 2007 and 2013. United also doubled the size of its stadium from one that had a capacity of 40,000 to being able to hold 75,000 fans.
However, adding debt repayments and interest charges into the mix was never part of the plan, leaving fans of the previously debt-free club to villainize the current owners.
While the club has experienced its fair share of fan protests over the years, it seems that the owners’ involvement in the controversial establishment of a European Super League, reignited widespread opposition.
The club’s net debt has also continued to grow by nearly 23% this year, bringing the total amount to £515 million. Three of the six Glazer siblings—Avram, Kevin, and Edward—have also sold around £200 million worth of shares within the last 12 months.
The Glazers announced that they would finally be putting United up for sale last November, on the same day the club revealed that they had decided to terminate Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract following the player’s explosive interview with Piers Morgan.
The Glazers sought the help of The Raine Group, who previously oversaw the Chelsea takeover last year, to help facilitate the bidding process.
With the takeover process in its 10th month, Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe have emerged as the two obvious front runners, beating out former Nokia executive and Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus.
However, while Sir Jim is offering a more flexible structure, allowing the Glazers to remain in some capacity, the deal appears to be Sheikh Jassim’s to lose.
The Qatari bid will only succeed, however, if all six of the Glazers decide to sell, as it would mean 100% control of the club, as well as eventually removing it from the stock market and going completely private. This multi-billion pound buy-out would also elevate the value of United’s shares, allowing investors to gain a return.
The Glazers’ main issue as owners of United is that they have also viewed the club as a business and have continued to operate as such, not providing any long-term plan for fans and players alike.
There has been a clear lack of investment in the club’s infrastructure and academy, contributing to United’s poor performance in recent years. The Glazers have also been fined for failing to comply with the financial fair play regulations of the Premier League.
While the outcome remains to be seen, we hope that United finally gets an owner worthy of the iconic club.
Chief Editor and Webmaster Olivia King enjoys watching all sorts of sport events, particularly football. So whenever there’s a newsworthy piece related to transfers or any other heated controversies, you better believe she’ll be avidly following it so she can have fresh fodder for her next article. In her free time, she enjoys practicing a variety of sports herself. From tennis to swimming, and even a good intensive training session when she feels up for the challenge!