Usually anniversaries are to be celebrated, but it’s probable most Manchester United fans reading this won’t enjoy us reminding them they have now had 15 years of Glazer ownership.
On May 12, 2005, having gradually hoovered up shares in the club, American billionaire Malcom Glazer announced, through holding company Red Football, the purchase of of J.P. McManus and John Magnier’s stake, meaning the Glazers were majority owners with 57 per cent of the club in their hands.
By June 2005 this increased to around 97 per cent and the Red Devils were delisted from the London Stock Exchange.
Almost immediately, fans opposed to the takeover began to form FC United of Manchester.
Overall, the purchase of the club saw United valued at £790million, and given a billionaire had bought them, it should have been a good sign going forward.
However, Glazer and his family immediately saddled the club with £540m worth of debt – putting Manchester United in the red for the first time since the 1930s when the club almost went out of business.
Since then, it’s believed the debt has cost £1billion in ‘fees, refinancing penalties and other dead money’, while the family themselves have also been paid dividends.
LATEST FOOTBALL STORIES
Man United could have saved £51m on Bruno Fernandes and 'signed him for just £17m'
Clubs discuss curtailing season, 'Project Restart' slammed as Sterling has doubts
Irish teen questioned over racist abuse of Arsenal legend Ian Wright on social media
‘A f***ing joke’ – Danny Rose doesn't mince words on subject of football resuming
No English sport until June, Leicester’s statue plans, stars 'desperate' to play again
‘We need to take a calculated risk’ – Roberto Martinez in favour of PL return
Premier League chief says clubs have held talks over curtailment of 2019/20 season
Danny Murphy echoes Harry Maguire’s prediction about Man United star
From the '3.25 at Aintree' to iconic England top – every Euro 96 kit ranked
Jamie Vardy’s former club Stocksbridge Park Steels in £20,000 plea to aid survival
All of this with the club, despite success under Sir Alex Ferguson until his departure in 2013, in gradual decline. There hasn’t been a Premier League title since the Scots’ retirement, and United are now trophyless in three years.
This, of course, comes at a time when rival owners are doing the absolute opposite.
Sheikh Mansour has invested over £1bn into both Man City and the community, improving the club’s academy while also being part of a housing deal which has helped regenerate parts of the local area.
City’s owners are not without problems, however, given concerns about human rights abuses in the UAE.
Not too far down the road, Fenway Sports Group, despite some early hiccups and some nagging smaller issues, including their recent backtracked decision to furlough staff going against the club’s ethos, are also doing far better than the Glazers.
They have successfully structured Liverpool in such a way that they now have an excellent recruitment policy which has seen them build a Champions League winning team and a side set to claim the Premier League title at an unfathomable canter.
Even if their top stars were to eventually leave they have the processes in place to rebuild, unlike United who ignored ex-boss Jose Mourinho’s desperate clamour for a centre-back only to then spend a world record transfer fee for a defender for Harry Maguire a year later, leaving them lagging behind rivals.
Meanwhile, Liverpool chiefs are also redeveloping Anfield and building a new state of the art training ground in Kirkby.
15 years have come and gone and many of the same concerns still frustrate United fans.
Money continues to come into the club, but the Red Devils remain with a huge amount of debt while the Glazers still get paid.
Interestingly enough, Liverpool’s John W. Henry and FSG co-investors Tom Werner and Mike Gordon have never taken a salary from the Anfield club directly, instead taking from the FSG coffers.
We don’t know how much longer the Glazers will own Manchester United, but they will need to improve their handling of affairs to keep things in check, especially with an economic downturn on the horizon.