Article from the May 2005 edition, the Socialist
paper of the Socialist Party, the CWI in Ireland.
Big business take over of United
by Michael Murphy
American sports tycoon Malcolm Glazer has bought JP McManus and John Magnier's 28% stake in Manchester United giving him 57% of the world's richest soccer club. Glazer will now attempt a full takeover bid for the team, which has sparked big opposition among fans who've had a campaign of protests in recent months.
Glazer does not have the cash in hand to buy Manchester United, valued on the stock exchange at £800 million and he will have to borrow up to £500 million. Fans are worried that the club will be saddled with this debt and that they could end up like Leeds. Rather than strengthening their playing squad (which on the evidence of the last two seasons is clearly needed) that "valuable" players could be sold to finance Glazer's debt. Also that the fans will be fleeced even more for tickets and merchandise than they are already.
The fans have organised a number of protests including a demonstration before the Champions league match with AC Milan however a planned boycott of the recent West Bromwich Albion game was called off citing reasons of not wishing to "offend" visiting supporters. They have also threatened to withdraw their season ticket money if Glazer is successful.
The current deadline for Glazers bid is 17 May. The board of directors is opposed to Glazers takeover bid but Manchester United as is a PLC and for its major shareholders profits and money are important not football.
The massive profits from Premier League soccer makes it inevitable that rich playboys looking for a new toy will buy into clubs such as Manchester United. Some fans blinded by Chelsea's relative success would love an Abromivich type figure to take over their club but as the Leeds United debacle has shown when a club ceases to make enough profit for its big business owners the football is sidelined in favour of profit margins and it's the fans and the club who end up paying the price.