Man United's future in doubt after death of Malcolm Glazer

May 29, 2014

What will Glazer's children do with the club, now that the man who bought it is dead?

A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The death of Malcolm Glazer, the controversial American owner of Manchester United, has raised doubts about the long-term ownership of the club.

News of Glazer's death at the age of 85 was announced on the website of his family's other sporting interest, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers American football franchise, which hailed him as a "dynamic business leader".

However, the Glazer family is unpopular among Man United fans, and the Premier League club's reaction to his death was "muted" says The Times. "United’s low-key public response appeared to reflect the unease felt by many of their supporters towards an unpopular regime," explains the paper. "The club have won five Premier League titles and one Champions League since being bought by the Glazer family in 2005, but the regime was widely accused of exploiting United through a leveraged buyout."

Glazer, who took over the family watch-part business after the death of his father when he was 15 and turned it into a multi-national company, had little direct involvement in United's affairs. He did not have a seat on the board and never even visited Old Trafford.

The 90 per cent of United owned by the Glazer family is split between his six children, all of whom are on the board. The final ten per cent was floated on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012.  The Times claims that his death will have "little or no impact on United as a business".

That may be true in the short term says the Daily Telegraph, but the long-term effects will "only become clear through the actions of the three unknown Glazers on the Old Trafford board".

While Joel, Avram and Bryan Glazer are sports fans who are often seen at United games, Malcolm's other three children - Kevin, Edward and Darcie - are less enthusiastic, "and the loss of their father - the patriarch of the family business - could lead to a reassessment of their involvement in United".

There has already been speculation that they could be prepared to sell their stake in the club.

If their siblings are similarly minded the result will be "the biggest yard sale in British sporting history", warns Jim White, also in the Telegraph.

It is a possibility because the Glazer family were never interested in United as anything other than a business. Malcolm "was not a fan", says White. "He had never thrilled to the genius of George Best, or leapt out of his seat at a Ryan Giggs run... What attracted him to the most profitable football business in England was straightforward: he was in it for the money."

Although he was a family man whose passing will be mourned "he was an owner who should never have been allowed into English football", he adds.

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Good grief, it's only a kickball club, not a multinational industry employing thousands on every continent. It might be good if it went out of business and became a sports club again.

what a breathtakingly ignorant comment - although to be expected by anyone who uses the word "kickball"

With a name like Wullie - sit down and shut up mate.