Monday, August 8, 2022

Who Are the Owners of Manchester United? Meet the Controversial Glazers Family

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Satyam Mukherjee
Avid Arsenal fan and a lawyer currently practising in Calcutta High Court.

A majority of Manchester United supporters have been protesting against their owners, the Glazers, for a considerable time. Although such protests are very regular in this modern age of football, this one has been the most vocal since its inception. It’s astounding as the club has seen the majority of its success during the tenure of its present owners.

What does Glazers Family do other than owning Manchester United?

Malcolm Glazer grew up in a poor Jewish family in New York. He had to sell watches door to door after his father’s death and very quickly established a successful watchmaking business. The man quickly made his name as a businessman who made millions from industries that didn’t seem profitable initially. Malcolm soon diverted his interests towards real estate investments and other thriving businesses.

Despite limited knowledge regarding American Football, Glazer bought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995 for a record price. He then installed his three sons, Joel, Bryan and Edward, to run the NFL franchise. They convinced the local government to fund a new stadium in 1998. The franchise won their first super bowl in January 2003.

Other Business Ventures of Glazers Family

The financial health of the Glazers family’s business interests in the US centres on First Allied Corporation, the Glazer company which owns and rents out shopping malls across the US. First Allied is registered in New York and Delaware, where private companies do not have to make their accounts public. Still, an investigation in 2010 revealed that they publicly traded mortgages on 63 of the 64 shopping centres First Allied lists on its website.

That since 2010, some First Allied shopping centres have fallen insolvent due to low occupancy. Receivers were appointed to sell those malls in Columbus, Ohio, Denton County, Texas, amongst others. The mortgages were almost all for loans taken out against the shopping centres with Lehman Brothers, the US investment bank which collapsed in 2008. Twenty-five were remortgages taken out in 2004, the year before the Glazers bought United. Those deals released $83m in equity, with a further $29m equity freed from remortgages in 2006 and 2007.

A Glazer family spokesman declined to comment about whether this was how the family raised part of the £272m cash paid to buy United. The Glazers borrowed the other £559m to buy the club, £275m of it in high-interest “payments in kind” from hedge funds, and have made the club responsible for paying it all off.

The majority of Manchester United fans opposed Glazer’s takeover of the club, mainly once they realised the level of debt that the club would have to take on after having been debt-free for so many years. Since 2005, the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust has been working on ways of returning ownership of the club to supporters. In 2010, they met with a group of wealthy Manchester United fans, to discuss a billion-pound takeover bid. However, the proposal fell through when the  Glazers’ valuation of the club was declared astronomical.

Malcolm Glazer died in 2014 leaving Joel and Avram as the co-chairman and his other four children as the directors of the English Club.

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