A very damning report this week by Football finance blogger Swiss Ramble has brought much attention on Manchester United and the Glazer family as it is reported they have invested the least amount of money into the club since the beginning of the 2014/15 until the end of the 2018/19 season.
What is even more staggering is that the Glazers have taken at least £89 million and even more out of our club in the time they have been in charge. If you look at other Premier League clubs in that period of time, then only six of those clubs have had net cash outflow with Tottenham coming in at £40 and Newcastle with £18 million respectively. If you look at the reverse of this, Chelsea have had £440 million injected by their owner Roman Abramovich in the last five years.
The running of the club has been called into question even more over our transfer dealings in the summer transfer window. Though we have seen the arrival of Donny Van Beek from Ajax, United fans have been expecting to see more movement not just in terms of in-comings but outgoings as well. Though Glazers are not directly involved in the transfers, they do leave this to the likes of Ed Woodward, Matt Judge with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer having his input on potential signings.
We did have a good transfer window last summer with Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James coming in and who made good starts to their careers at United. United fans have called on the club to be more proactive in the window with the potential transfer of Jadon Sancho seeming to take forever though just like the Bruno Fernandes’s deal back in January took to the very last minute to conclude.
We have every right to ask questions about how our club is being run and we do not get much communication from the Glazers or even Woodward at times. This has left fans so frustrated and angry. We are not asking to know exactly every single detail going on at the club as certain things need to be kept confidential. What we would like to know how the Glazers and Woodward are planning to return us to the top of the football table. Back in the November 2019 issue of the United We Stand fanzine, Woodward said, “We have to communicate better. Where we are today is often miscommunicated and I want to try and improve that”.
It invokes a famous quote from the film ‘The Dark Knight’ where the Joker says “Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos!” The Glazers family have been agents of chaos since they made their first intention to buy the club and subsequent purchase of it back in 2003. Amongst us fans, they are seen as milking the club dry of all its profits and never willing to reinvested this money back into the club whether on players, training facilities and the ground itself.
As the Glazers own the club, they have every right to do what they want with it in terms of how it is run, particularly financially as football clubs are now becoming more of a business. But what really rankles the United faithful is the amount of debt the club is still after 17 years of their ownership. The debt on the club currently stands at £429 million and if the Glazer family were to put back the £89 million they had taken out, the debt will still be at £340 million. It begs the question amongst all us United fans why they continue to take money out when the debt is so high.
The Guardian stated back in 2018 and I don’t like saying this but our neighbours down the road Manchester City and their owners have invested over £1.3 billion into the club to make it better not only on players but the stadium and training facilities so they can compete for the top honours. Whereas the Glazers have taken out over £1 billion from the club in the time they have been with us.
Back in 2005, Joel Glazer gave his only ever interview to MUTV as he responded to concern by fans after the takeover of the club. He was asked whether communication with the fans is important, to which he said, “It’s extremely important. Again I keep coming back to it, fans are the lifeblood of the club. People want to know what’s happening, people want to know where things are heading but we will be communicating.”
There has been non-existent communication from the Glazer family in the last fifteen years. Ian Herbert wrote back in February 2020 for the Daily Mail that when the Glazers came to visit in 2005, they looked around the club shop picking up souvenirs before retreating back to America. United fans who were waiting outside accosted Sir Bobby Charlton as he came outside expressing concerns for the future of the club and said of the Glazers, “I don’t expect we’ll see much of them” and he was right.
The Glazers and Woodward have failed to learn from lessons over the last six years since Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill left the club. The point that can be argued is that the money has not been well spent on bringing in players. Over £850 million had been spent in that time and we have not been able to win the Premier League in that time. Though last summer and the January we did spend the money more wisely.
United have brought in big name players over the last several seasons with the likes of Angel Di Maria, Falcao, Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku who have faded away during their time at the club due to an inability to succeed under the club’s way of playing or could not adapt to the Premier League itself.
The managers that have been under the Glazers since Ferguson have also not had the support with both former managers Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho criticising the club’s ability in signing players. It was clear in the season that Mourinho left the club that he wanted to bring in a central defender which was Harry Maguire from Leicester. But the United hierarchy were baulking at the price they would have to pay only to go and sign Maguire twelve months later for even more money.
United are trying to learn from their past mistakes with how the club has been running but I do hope that the vicious cycle does not continue with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as it has done with previous managers as illustrated by the image below.
I want the Glazers to give Ole all the tools he needs to do his job as I very much like every United fan want him to succeed and to bring back all the top honours to the club. Only time will tell if the Glazers and Ed Woodward will do this.