Manchester United owner Malcolm Glazer dies
Death of American, hated by many supporters, not expected to affect running of club
Malcolm Glazer, the controversial American owner of English Premier League giants Manchester United, died on Wednesday. He was 85.
Glazer – the son of a Lithuanian immigrant who went on to build an diverse business empire – gained a global profile through his ownership of United, one of the world’s biggest and best supported football clubs.
But he was deeply unpopular with hardcore United fans after loading the club with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt following a 2005 buyout.
His death was announced on the website of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers American football team, one of his other sports teams.
Under Glazer’s stewardship of the Buccaneers, the NFL team enjoyed its first Super Bowl success in 2002.
“Malcolm Glazer was the guiding force behind the building of a Super Bowl-champion organization,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday.
Shares of Manchester United slipped sharply on the New York Stock Exchange after Glazer’s death was announced but finished the day unchanged in thin trade at $16.30.
Glazer’s death is not expected to have any bearing on the ownership of the club, with his family retaining a 90 per cent holding in United.
His sons Joel and Avram Glazer continue to serve as co-chairmen of the club. Another son, Bryan, remains on the United board.
“The thoughts of everyone at Manchester United are with his family tonight,” the Premier League club said Wednesday.
Glazer’s 2005 takeover of United in a leveraged $1.2 billion buyout triggered widespread protests amongst the club’s fans.
Although Glazer’s reign coincided with a glut of silverware – including five Premier League crowns and the 2008 Champions League title – he remained a hate figure for many supporters.
Manchester United Supporters’ Trust vice-chair Sean Bones said: “It would be inappropriate for me to make any comment about the death of Malcolm Glazer as I didn’t know him or his family personally.
“However, as a supporter, I am aware of the detrimental effect the Glazers have had on the football club and the huge debt that has been placed on Manchester United.
“Malcolm Glazer wasn’t a board member and his children are on the board, so I don’t think that situation changes much.”
Fans have complained that Glazer’s ownership model has forced United to spend millions of pounds servicing the club’s debt – money which could have been spent in strengthening United’s playing staff.
Nevertheless, Glazer found a consistent and vocal ally in Manchester United’s legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who insisted the American had been “great” for the club.
Glazer has had more success winning over the supporters of his NFL team. He bought the floundering franchise in 1995 from the estate of Hugh Culverhouse and then helped oversee the Bucs’ most successful period in the history.