Nicol: Time for Glazers to end Man Utd ownership 'disaster' (1:45)

Steve Nicol thinks it's time for the family to give up control of the club. There is a delay of1:45.

9:36 AM ET

The evening of June 30, 2005, would have been a good time for the Glazer family to learn about the road ahead for their ownership of Manchester United.

When the Glazers flew in for the first time as owners, they met senior figures and took a look at the prize they had just acquired. It was a different story when they tried to get out. Riot police and dog handler were called in after hundreds of United supporters tried to enter the stadium. Fans erected barriers to stop the Glazers from leaving Old Trafford, forcing officers to bundle them into a police van.

Nick Towle, of Shareholders United, a group of fans who held shares in the club, said at the time that life is not going to be easy for the club's owners. They don't realize the magnitude of the reception they will get. Hardcore fans will not give up.

Sir Bobby Charlton apologized to the new owners for the actions of the fans, despite the fact that the Glazers were not welcome at Manchester United.

The man apologized for what happened. They can't ignore the fans, who are so emotionally involved in the club, but who sometimes go too far.

Seventeen years later, the United supporters are still protesting against the Glazers, who took over the club with just a small investment of their own money.

United had been debt-free for a long time. Although listed on the London Stock Exchange with annual dividends for shareholders, profits were put back into the club in order to sign Wayne Rooney. From a 40,000 capacity stadium to a 75,000 capacity one, United almost doubled its size. Debt repayments and interest charges were added to the mix.

Since 2005, through successful times, fans have targeted the club's sponsors, vandalized and protested outside the properties of various club board members and, in May 2021, broke into Old Manchester and forced the postponement of a premier league game against Liverpool.

Despite the fury and hatred of the United fan base, the Glazers are still in control and there is a growing sense of optimism.

The Glazer family ownership of Manchester United might be coming to an end after almost two decades. Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

In August, it was reported that the family are considering selling a minority stake in the club in order to raise funds for the Old Manchester project.

The walls are closing in on the Glazers after almost 20 years of blanking out the noise.

"Love United, Hate Glazer"

There is a banner thanking the owner at Manchester City. A tribute to the "Roman Empire" was draped across one of the stands at the stadium until Roman Abramovich was forced to sell his controlling stake in the club.

There are stickers on walls, seats, lampposts and other objects that say "Love United Hate Glazer."

At the time of the Glazers' takeover, organised groups like Shareholders United attempted to block the sale, warning of the club being used as a lucrative cash cow to help fund the Glazers' U.S. based business empire. Some fans left to set up FC United of Manchester, which is now in the seventh tier of English football, because they didn't want to watch United again under the Glazers.

The United board was against the takeover and the Glazers were buying up shares. The Glazers took control of the club after David Gill warned that "debt is the road to ruin and Manchester United will never go down that road"

Even though the family promised in 2005 that they would "day in, day out, reach out to supporters," they did not say anything to the fans. They are mostly absent-owners and rarely attend games, but they have a co-chairman in Washington D.C.

The United fans' opposition to the Glazers can be hard to understand. United has won more major trophies than any other English team since the Glazers took over. In addition to the 5 premier league titles, the Glazer haul includes a win against Barcelona in 2008 and a loss against Barcelona in 2009.


The fans are protesting against the ownership of the club.

They have spent over a billion dollars on new players in the last decade, including some of the world's best known players. Over the course of the summer, United have spent over two hundred million dollars on new players, with Antony being the most expensive new player in the history of the club.

The commercial earnings of United almost tripled from an initial £210m per year in 2006 to a high of over $600m in 2019.

All isn't as it seems. United haven't won a trophy since the end of Jose Mourinho's time at the club, and the trophy collection has fallen by the wayside. Without Ferguson in charge, United haven't been able to win the league or reach the final of the European competition. The money spent on new players has kept pace with the spending of other teams but it is the money going from United to the Glazers that really angers fans.

Barney Chilton, editor of the Red News fanzine since 1987, said that a hardcore of supporters have never forgiven the Glazers. There is a legal, if immoral, takeover where pointless debts and its costs have seen an incomprehensible amount of money go out of the club rather than on it.

Is that for what? To make money from a family who treat United badly. The cost to the club and its supporters keep me up at night. They should not have been allowed to lump the debt burden together.

You can watch LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more on the US version of the network.

The total amount spent to finance their ownership of United, with interest and debt repayments and dividends, also went beyond $1 billion, despite Sheikh Mansour's investment in City breaking the $1 billion barrier. The transfer fee for a world-class signing is the average amount of these payments.

Money that could have been invested in the team has been lost due to being owned by the Glazers.

Towle predicted the years of turbulence in 2005 and they have been disaster as owners. When Sir Alex was manager, he took care of everything, but since he retired, the Glazers have been found out.

The Glazer's saw how football clubs would become a huge source of revenue and they got in on the ground floor, but United have paid a heavy price for that.

The recent revival on the pitch, with four successive wins after two straight defeats, has lifted the mood at Old United and brought a new sense of optimism, but the anti-Glazer protests continued before, during and after Sunday's 3-1 win againstArsenal

Gary said that everything now has to point towards the family. Failure in performance will eventually come to the owners if there is embedded rot over a long period of time. If the owners aren't making the right decisions at the top, you can't start attacking them.

The club needs ownership change in order to succeed in the future.


The signing of Antony for Manchester United shows the club's support, according to Rob.

What is the Glazers' endgame?

Several offers to sell Manchester United have been rejected by the Glazer's. According to sources, the Americans rejected a Middle East-based offer for their entire stake in the club in late 2009, and a year later, a group of wealthy individuals tried to force the club's owners into selling.

The Green and Gold protest grew into a loud and visible campaign of defiance against the Glazers. Fans' groups enlisted the help of Blue State Digital, the U.S. tech company used by Barack Obama during his 2008 Presidential campaign, to help project their campaign and message to a global audience through social media.

There's a beautiful game here. You can watch tournaments and teams.

Sign up for ESPN+

There is a wednesday in september 7 is the number.

• U.S. Open Cup final: Orlando City vs. Sacramento Republic (8 p.m. ET)

Thursday, Sept. 26 A number 8.

• Werder Bremen vs. Augsburg (2 p.m. ET)

• Burnley vs. Norwich City (3 p.m. ET)

• Girona vs. Valladolid (3 p.m. ET)

• Las Palmas vs. Leganes (3 p.m. ET)

They were not moved. After turning the club into a commercial powerhouse, they were able to keep the money rolling in.

The source who worked with the Glazers said that they enjoy being United's owners. They have one of sport's biggest global brands and they get a lot of praise from that.

Some people have a different opinion. The source said that Manchester United is part of the business empire of the Glazers. There is no emotional attachment to the club for them. They will sell if there is a good offer.

They will note that the Chelsea sale has set a standard. They won't be selling Manchester United for less than $5 billion, if the value of the club is more than $4 billion.

Anti-Glazer protests have been going on since 2005, when the family took over United. ANTHONY DEVLIN/AFP via Getty Images

The same individuals and private equity funds that were interested in buying out Roman Abramovich would be buying United, according to a source connected to one of the failed groups.

It would be like buying the Denver Broncos and then being told you could have had the Dallas Cowboys, according to a source.

According to sources, the owners of the club face significant financial challenges in the months and years to come, despite United's public position that they remain committed long-term owners.

Initial estimates suggest that an upgrade of the stadium will cost around 200 million dollars. The club's most recent financial accounts show that they owe over 200 million dollars in outstanding transfer payments.

The most recent figure for the club's net debt, as of May 2022, was almost half a billion dollars. The debt was as low as £203.6m in September of last year, which is why financial experts believe the next 12 months will determine the future of United's owners.

In June, Richard Arnold was secretly recorded telling fans at a pub that United had "f---ing burned through cash" and that they needed to rebuild the stadium.

The Head of Investment at Rockpool Investment, Andy Green, has analysed the finances of United in his previous writings, and he has said that the Glazers are facing big decisions.

The latest highlights and debates are brought to you by Dan Thomas. You can stream on the US version of the network.

Green said that they have reached a crossroads. The reality is that Manchester United will command a much higher sale price because of it's status as one of the world's top clubs." They are worth more than the English team.

They won't struggle to find a buyer because of the amount of money and interest that's out there. If they decide to limp on as owners, they need to find some finance from somewhere, either through borrowing or selling a portion of their holding. Nobody will want to invest millions in United and leave the Glazers in control.

This summer's spending spree is down because of the lack of regular European football, but they have to pay for the Old United redevelopment. Suggestions that they will follow the Barcelona route and borrow against broadcast deals would be short-sighted, but they have done the equivalent of building the squad with a credit card, and may end up funding the stadium rebuild.

It doesn't make sense for the Glazers to hold onto United when they could sell the club for more money.

According to a source, you can park your money in 10-year US government bonds. Even if the Glazers sold United and walked away with less than $3 billion, they would still make £90m a year. It's difficult to see why they wouldn't consider cashing in their chips if they were able to sell their own TV rights or a Super League.


Fans invade the pitch ahead of a Manchester United game.

A perfect storm brewing

As Manchester United owners, the Glazers could be in the middle of a perfect storm. The club had to rebuild after the 1959 Munich Air Disaster that claimed the lives of eight first-team players, and Britain's richest man has announced his interest in the club.

According to, Ratcliffe has amassed a fortune of more than 10 billion dollars after building the chemicals company Ineos. Ratcliffe tried to buy the English club in May.

With interest rates escalating across the globe, the Glazers must either contemplate expensive borrowing, further adding to United's debt, or face a campaign of fan unrest, or both.

While reticent to speak to the media, the group that organised the mass protest told Red News that they only wanted to remove the Glazers.

They said that the 1958 are about fit and proper ownership. We will not stand back and watch the club. We are in this for the long haul and will mount sustained pressure on this ownership. We will do everything in our power to make it legal and peaceful.

Erik ten Hag is turning United around in terms of performance on the pitch, but off the pitch, supporters are clear about the changes they want in ownership. Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

If United are to return to the top of the game in England and Europe, the movement against the Glazers must succeed.

He thinks it's a moment or two. There isn't the money the club needs and the club needs investors, according to Richard Arnold. It was a big surprise.

The pressure has to be kept. It will shine a light on why we want to remove them. Their grip on the club may not be what it used to be.

Sources say that a fans' share scheme is close to becoming a reality with the intention of supporters being able to buy shares and have a significant voice in the running of the club.

Michael Knighton, who tried to buy the club for just £20m in 1989, described the proposal as a smokescreen.

Since day one, nothing has changed for the Glazers at United. Seventeen years later, the fans still want them out. The stadium was filled with chants of "We want Glazers out" when the team beat the two teams this season.

With potential buyers waiting to make their move and the cost of holding onto the club increasing with every interest rate hike, maybe the last chapter of the Glazer era is about to be written.