The Glazer family’s 17-year reign as Manchester United owners could be coming to an end – Copyright AFP Daniel MIHAILESCU
Manchester United’s owners said on Tuesday they were ready to sell the club, which could bring down the curtain on the Glazer family’s acrimonious 17 years.
In a tumultuous day for the English giants, it was previously revealed that star player Cristiano Ronaldo has left the club with “immediate effect”.
The turbulent weeks seemed to have come to an end when United announced that Ronaldo’s contract had been terminated by mutual consent to end his second spell at Old Trafford.
That dramatic announcement was overshadowed just hours later by the news that the US-based Glazer family might also be dating.
“The board will consider all strategic alternatives, including a new investment in the club, a sale or other transactions involving the company,” United said in a statement.
The Glazers have been unpopular with fans since a £790 million ($934 million) leveraged buyout in 2005 saddled the club with huge debts.
Frustration toward the Americans has only grown during a nine-year slump in on-field results since Alex Ferguson’s retirement as coach in 2013.
The Red Devils have not won a Premier League title since Ferguson’s last campaign in 2012/13 and have not won a trophy since 2017.
United currently sit fifth in the Premier League, 11 points behind leaders Arsenal.
“We will evaluate all options to ensure we better serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future,” added Avram and Joel Glazer, co-chief executives and club directors.
The statement also recognized the need to invest in redeveloping the stadium.
Old Trafford remains the largest club stadium in England with a capacity of 74,000, but it hasn’t seen a significant upgrade since 2006.
– Ronaldo leaves –
Erik ten Hag is the fifth permanent manager at Old Trafford in the last nine years and his first months in charge have been dominated by the debate over Ronaldo’s place in the team.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner had been used sparingly by the former Ajax boss in the Premier League.
Ronaldo reacted with an explosive interview on TalkTV last week in which he said he felt “betrayed” by the club and had no respect for Ten Hag.
The Portugal captain, who is currently playing in his fifth World Cup, also took aim at the Glazers, stating that “they don’t care about the club.”
“Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect,” United said in an earlier statement.
“The club thanks him for his immense contribution during two spells at Old Trafford, scoring 145 goals in 346 appearances, and wishes him and his family all the best for the future.”
The news that the Glazers are inviting investment comes just weeks after Liverpool’s American owners, Fenway Sports Group, indicated they were willing to sell.
Both United and Liverpool were involved in the failed European Super League (ESL) project which sought to create an American-style closed league format for Europe’s elite clubs without the need for qualification or promotion and relegation.
Amid a furious backlash to the ESL, a match between United and Liverpool was canceled in May 2021 after fans stormed the pitch at a time when fans were barred from stadiums due to coronavirus restrictions.
Protests against the Glazers have remained common on match days at Old Trafford despite huge spending on player transfers and salaries, including Ronaldo’s homecoming.
In May, Premier League rivals Chelsea were sold for £2.5bn ($3bn), a record for a soccer club, to another American consortium headed by Todd Boehly, with investment additional £1.75bn pledged in gaming equipment and infrastructure.