Manchester United fans all over the world are waking up today safe in the knowledge that the owners, and Joel Glazer in particular, ‘care deeply’ about the club and the fans.
An emotional letter addressed to the Manchester United Fans’ Forum was released yesterday, which I’m sure touched us all. I had to wipe away a tear myself when Joel told us he was personally humbled.
It means so much as this is just the second communication we have had from the Glazer family and the first for 16 years – bar the generic Super League apology a couple of weeks ago. We should make the most of this letter too, as by law of average, the next time we will hear from our wonderful owners will be in 2037.
The first time the Glazer family spoke to the fans was shortly after their takeover in 2005 when Joel Glazer gave an interview to MUTV. Looking back on that interview, it’s evident that hardly anything said back then has come to fruition.
Similarities can be drawn from yesterday’s letter and the MUTV interview in 2005. History is repeating itself.
On that interview from 2005, I’ve gone to the trouble of picking out some of the lies Joel Glazer told back then. I’m going to need a strong drink after this.
On the importance of fans
“I say this day in day out in Tampa to anyone who is associated with our club that it starts with the supporters, because without the supporters and their support and their passion there is no game, there is nothing to cheer for. So I stress day in day out that we have to reach out to our supporters, treat them the best we know how to treat them. People have put their time, energy and other parts of their life into this and we are very mindful of this and it all starts there and bringing our experience over here is an energy we think we can bring to the game. I keep stressing that, I know it’s a great emphasis here, but we keep stressing that the people who come here and around the world who care so much about this club, we’re respectful of them, mindful of them.”
Joel stressed that they know they must reach out to fans and treat them the ‘best we know how’.
The best they know how? If the last sixteen years have been the best they could treat fans, I seriously wouldn’t want to see their worst.
In 16 years, despite huge, continuous protests, the Glazer family haven’t even acknowledged that the fans exist.
We are not supporters to them. We are customers. A number on their database. Each of us being an opportunity to exploit. Nothing more.
On doing everything they can to put out the best possible team
“It’s our job to do everything we can to put the best team on the pitch we can because people who put their hearts and souls into this club look upon us to put our heart and souls into the club.”
In 2005, we had a young, hungry team who would go on to dominate Europe. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand coupled with the experience of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and others was the dream starting point for any club in the world. Sir Alex Ferguson got everything he could out of what he had from before the Glazers came.
A total spend of £183m from 08/09 to 12/13, selling Cristiano Ronaldo for a world record fee in that time, suggests the Glazers didn’t do ‘everything they could’ to sustain that success. Since Ferguson’s retirement, it has been evident many, many times that the managers we’ve had haven’t been given what they needed.
David Moyes was given a deadline day Marouane Fellaini, with Woodward paying more than his release clause.
Louis Van Gaal has since spoken out about the incompetence of Ed Woodward.
Jose Mourinho was refused a CB and other players after winning two trophies and finishing second in the league with 81 points in 2017/18.
The club – and the Glazer family – have continuously let down every manager since their arrival, structurally and financially.
On the importance of communication with fans
“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. Again, I think it’s important that the chief executive is communicating on a regular basis and the manager communicates on a regular basis and we can communicate certain things ourselves but not much is going to be changing at Old Trafford.
‘Fans are the lifeblood’. ‘We will be communicating’.
Again, let me just point out that until yesterday, it has been SIXTEEN years. They don’t communicate with fans because they quite simply don’t care. It has taken a huge demonstration and protests, with the potential of impacting them financially, to produce a letter written by someone else with Joel Glazer’s name at the bottom.
They care about one thing – money. If they can get away without acknowledging fans whilst taking their annual dividends from their Florida homes, they absolutely will – and have… for SIXTEEN YEARS.
On giving Sir Alex Ferguson ‘all the resources’ he needs
“We understand the scepticism, we understand that when there is change there’s uncertainty. But things are, to me, business as usual. David Gill will continue to do the great things he’s been doing with his team. Sir Alex Ferguson will be given all the resources for him to compete on the field at the highest possible level, so we are always going to provide them what they need, when they need it, to be successful.”
Once again, no you didn’t. In fact, let me go into a little more detail.
Manchester United had a net-spend of just £158m across 8 years under Sir Alex Ferguson – that’s just £19m per season from 05/06 to 12/13.
During those 8 years, we were fed the ‘no value in the market’ line. Even Rooney questioned United’s ambition. It was evident that United were being held back.
Whilst Manchester City were building one of the best squads in the world, Manchester United were resigned to signing Antonio Valencia as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo and taking punts on the likes of Bebé and Manucho. The year City signed Sergio Agüero, United signed Ashley Young. An average net-spend of £19m per season for eight years, for a club the size of Manchester United, is madness.
You could argue that Manchester United were still successful during these years, but that was not down to The Glazers. Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, not to mention Sir Alex Ferguson were instrumental to those glory years, all of which were at United before the takeover.
The Glazers had no hand in those successful years under Ferguson, if anything, they prevented even further success in Sir Alex’s twilight years.
On the type of owner he’s going to be
“Very passionate. I can say that much from our experience in Tampa. In the 10 years we’ve owned the team, I’ve never missed a match. You’re passionate about the sport but part of the rule, this rule is to make sure people have what they need to do the job to the best of their ability, so again whether it’s Sir Alex with the budget, the transfer budget to make sure he can get whatever he needs on the pitch, David Gill to expand what has already been built at Manchester United, it’s our duty to make sure that happens but also to be a great steward of this club for the supporters. We’ve got to keep reminding people that the supporters are the lifeblood of this club and sometimes people forget that. I know I don’t forget that on a daily basis and I will keep reminding people of that.”
Joel Glazer told us in 2005 that he would be a very passionate owner.
Despite never missing a Tampa Bay Bucaneers match, the Glazer family very rarely attend Manchester United games. This quote from Louis Van Gaal suggests the Glazers are very much hands-off when it comes to the actual football.
“Woodward is the one who talks with the Glazers. I only talked with the Glazers when they were [attending] a game or training session. Mostly they attend top matches and fortunately we won a lot of these top matches, in any case against Liverpool.”
Little communication with the manager and only attending the ‘top matches’. It’s hard to verbalise this kind of passion, almost takes your breath away, doesn’t it?
On why he hasn’t spoke to fans yet (during the staged takeover spanning 1-2 years)
“That has been a little frustrating for us because people who know me and know my family know that anytime they can come up to us and approach us and we’re happy to talk. Part of the problem with being a PLC as we just saw over the last several months is you’re very restricted with what you can and can’t say and when you’re working under those types of guidelines everyone says you’ve got to be very careful. You try and say something and if you say the wrong thing it may have problems based on the regulations so it was really an effort to stay clear of that.”
Joel said it was ‘frustrating’ that they couldn’t communicate with fans during the takeover. He goes on to explain that he and his family can be approached and they’d be happy to talk.
Of course, the Glazer family have refused to comment on Manchester United multiple times over the years but we don’t need to go too far back to find the last time they refused to send a message to the supporters. Do we, Avram?
Joel was so frustrated that he couldn’t communicate with fans in 2005, he took 16 years to prepare the perfect letter for the club to tweet. Fair play to him.
On being given time before being judged
“The thing I emphasise is this: it’s going to be a long-term situation and nothing I can say today or could have said yesterday is going to completely change people’s views. The only thing that’s going to change views is things that happen over time so I caution people that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Judge us over the long haul, don’t judge us on a day or the last several months. It’s been frustrating for us not being able to communicate because people are so passionate about this club and it’s not good when you’re not having communication or dialogue with people. It’s very frustrating when you can’t say everything you want to say. It’s frustrating, I can’t make time move forward, but like we experienced with Tampa, there was scepticism at the beginning but time changed that. We firmly believe whilst there is scepticism today and uncertainty today, time will change that as well.”
It has been a long-term situation. We’re not judging you for what you did in 2005 anymore. We’re judging you for what you have done for sixteen years.
In 2005, Joel himself said that they need time and patience and again reiterated his frustration at the lack of communication. Sound familiar? It should. The tone of yesterday’s letter was the same.
That tone being, ‘we know you’re frustrated, but give us time’.
If we’re unfortunate enough to still have the Glazers running our club sixteen years from now – which I firmly believe will not be the case – the message will be the same.
Lie after lie, many more besides those included in this article. After all those lies told in 2005, forgive me for being sceptical 16 years later when fans receive a short letter, likely written by someone else and given a quick proof-read from Joel & Co.
The aim of this letter is to buy time. To calm down the fanbase until they can sign a couple of players in hope all of this just blows over. They are panicking. Make no mistake about that. They’re feeling the pressure and they know this time it’s different.
Conveniently sent in a week where Season Ticket holders have to decide whether they will renew for next season.
Conveniently sent at a time where sponsors of the club are being boycotted and attacked online.
Conveniently sent at a time where fan unrest is at all-time high.
Empty words mean nothing anymore.
Joel Glazer, you have had 16 years to do all of the things you said in your letter yesterday.
£499m of debt still outstanding.
£854m paid in interest alone.
£122m of dividends taken.
£102m being paid in Director’s fees.
£29m in personal loan fees.
£452m in share sales, where not a penny has been put back into the club.
Selling Cristiano Ronaldo for a world record fee and replacing him with Gabriel Obertan, Antonio Valencia and Michael Owen, using the money to repay debt instead.
The neglect of Old Trafford and the surrounding facilities.
The Super League debacle.
Letting down manager after manager.
Prioritising finances over success.
The lack of communication or care for fans plus much, much more besides.
The letter echoes what you said 16 years ago. We’ve had enough time to make up our minds and you don’t deserve any more.
Your time at Manchester United is well and truly up.