By Krissania Young
The year 2020 marks the 15-year anniversary of the controversial takeover of Manchester United by American businessman Malcolm Glazer. The move to acquire the English club, which was initiated in 2003, saw the Glazer family assuming control in 2005 when the Americans achieved a majority stake in ownership. However, the “large scale” borrowing that funded the takeover, executed by accountant Ed Woodward, left Manchester United hundreds of millions of dollars in debt for the first time in 74 years.
Since the Glazers obtained controlling shares, up until 2018, Manchester United had won 18 major honours on the field of play. However, that timeline saw the Glazer takeover—the gift that keeps on giving—draining the club of one billion pounds. While, next door to United, Manchester City owners have contrastingly invested one billion pounds.
Since Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan assumed control of City in 2008, they have won the Premier League four times. During that time, United has lifted the trophy on three occasions. The difference being that all four of City’s triumphs have come in the last decade, with their last title coming in the 2018/19 season, while United’s last League title was seven years ago.
The Old Trafford Club—undoubtedly the biggest in England and arguably the world—currently has banker, and accountant, Ed Woodward overseeing its day-to-day operations. Woodward currently acts as the club’s Director of Football, having final say on transfers.
Football Analyst, Ian McGarry, when making reference to United transfer policy earlier this week, stated, “Man United’s talk about how transfer-speculation is good for the brand because it draws traffic. Pogba’s arrival and wages were affected by his social media presence. His arrival was dragged out beyond the point [of when] the deal was agreed, to maximize social media impact.”
This might also explain the delay in the arrival of United’s No. 1 target this summer, Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho. It was reported that United had agreed to personal terms with the Dortmund player, months ago. And with Woodward and company knowing the fee it would take to complete the transfer, nearly a year in advance, United is now two games into the new season, and Sancho is still not a Red Devil.
Further evidence that the incompetence is on the part of Manchester United concerning the Sancho saga is that, on Tuesday, Sky Sports reported that Dortmund and those close to the player—who wants to join Manchester United—have been ‘bemused’ with the club’s approach to the deal.
McGarry was speaking on Duncan Castles’ Transfer Podcast when he continued, “Man United are the only club I am aware of who goes into investors’ meetings and brag about the fact that signing Odion Ighalo was the top trend worldwide on Twitter last January”.
In a vicious cycle of apathy, United tends to spend more when they fail to qualify for the Champions League but become complacent in the transfer market when they do qualify. The 20-time champions of England, within the past six years, has had an average net spend of £101 million when they miss out on European football, compared to £36 million when they qualify.
As the reality that United might not be a ‘big team’ on the pitch for a while slowly sinks in for Manchester United fans, let us never forget the words of former manager, Louis Van Gaal, summarizing the operations of the once-mighty Reds: “They are a commercial club”.
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