Who are the Glazers? How much Manchester United owners paid for club and why fans are protesting against them

Manchester United fan opposition to the Glazer family’s ownership is nothing new, but the level of supporter anger has risen significantly in the last 12 months.

Supporters group “The 1958” have led several protests, both before matches and from inside Old Trafford, in a bid to force the American owners of the club to sell their shares and move on.

United supporters have grown frustrated with a lack of boardroom direction within the running of the Premier League giants in an era dominated by rivals Manchester City and Liverpool.

Fans have raged against a lack of investment in redeveloping Old Trafford, wasting money on poor transfer decisions and not creating a structure for coaches to thrive in, all with the Glazers continuing to attach debt to the club based on their original loan to buy it.

The Glazer-backed attempt to sign United up to the controversial European Super League project in 2021 triggered mass protests outside Old Trafford, leading to a postponement of a Premier League tie with Liverpool as fans signaled that a final straw had been broken.

In November 2022, the family said they were seeking “strategic alternatives” at the club, which included the possibility of an outright sale. After more than a year of uncertainty, it was announced on December 24, 2023 that British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe would be buying 25 per cent of the club’s shares and take control of sporting operations. His company, INEOS, is committed to a total spend of nearly $2 billion, yet the Glazers will retain the majority ownership they have held since 2005.

MORE: Could Sir Jim Ratcliffe make Graham Potter the new Man United manager?

Who are the Glazers? Avram, Joel & others

The Glazer family ownership of United is built from Malcolm Glazer’s original purchase of the club in 2005.

U.S. businessman Glazer gradually built up his investment stake in United from 2003, buying out previous majority shareholders JP McManus and John Magnier, before rapidly acquiring a majority stake and eventually launching a full buyout via investment company Red Football.

However, due to Glazer’s poor health from 2006 onwards, his sons Joel and Avram took on the majority of the day-to-day running of United, with the pair now co-chairmen at Old Trafford.

Following the senior Glazer’s death in 2014, his remaining 90 percent controlling stake in United was shared equally between Joel, Avram and his four other children, Kevin, Bryan, Darcie and Edward, who all hold director roles.

How much did the Glazers buy Manchester United for?

Glazer’s initial outlay in buying up United shares from 2003 to 2005 is unconfirmed but the eventual figure to purchase the club is reported to be in the region of £800 million ($1.04 billion).

However, the structure and financing of the purchase has caused perpetual controversy for the Glazers and United fans.

The majority of the capital used to buy United was raised by loans, with Glazer balancing multi-million pound borrowing against United’s assets, and their projected profitability.

This has opened up a never-ending game of cat and mouse between the Glazers and their lending banks and investors, with interest payments continuing, and United unable to bring themselves back into positive equity.

Figures regarding exactly how much debt the Glazers have levered on United, and how much it has increased, vary notably, with estimates ranging from £474 million ($619 million) to £520 million ($679 million), plus annual interest payments of £65 million ($84 million).

How much have the Glazers spent on Man United transfers?

Since the start of the 2005-06 Premier League season, the Glazer family have overseen a spend of around £1.5 billion ($2.06 billion) in transfers at Old Trafford.

Spread across 17 seasons, that averages at around £92 million ($120 million) per campaign, with the £50 million ($68 million) mark broken eight times — a figure only beaten by rivals Manchester City in Premier League history.

Paul Pogba of Manchester United vs. Burnley

Paul Pogba’s £94.5 million ($123 million) return from Juventus in 2016 remains their biggest transfer and the Frenchman’s free transfer in 2022 was symbolic of the club’s prolific mismanagement.

How many trophies have Man United won under the Glazers?

With Sir Alex Ferguson still at the helm, United continued to be a major Premier League force, with five titles in eight seasons and a memorable Champions League win in 2008.

However, the post-Ferguson era signaled a drop in United’s success.

Man United performance under the Glazers

Season Manager Most Expensive Transfer Premier League Finish Major Trophies Won
2005/06 Sir Alex Ferguson Nemanja Vidic
£9.5m ($12.4m)
2nd EFL Cup
2006/07 Sir Alex Ferguson Michael Carrick
£24.5m ($32m)
1st Premier League
2007/08 Sir Alex Ferguson Anderson
£28.3m ($36.9m)
1st Premier League
Champions League
2008/09 Sir Alex Ferguson Dimitar Berbatov
£34.2m ($44.6m)
1st Premier League
FIFA Club World Cup
2009/10 Sir Alex Ferguson Antonio Valencia
£16.9m ($22m)
2nd EFL Cup
2010/11 Sir Alex Ferguson Bebe
£7.9m ($10.3m)
1st Premier League
2011/12 Sir Alex Ferguson David de Gea
£22.5m ($29.3m)
2nd N/A
2012/13 Sir Alex Ferguson Robin van Persie
£26.7m ($34.8m)
1st Premier League
2013/14 David Moyes
Ryan Giggs
Juan Mata
£40m ($52m)
7th N/A
2014/15 Louis Van Gaal Angel Di Maria
£67.5m ($88m)
4th N/A
2015/16 Louis Van Gaal Anthony Martial
£54m ($70.5m)
5th FA Cup
2016/17 Jose Mourinho Paul Pogba
£94.5m ($123m)
6th EFL Cup
Europa League
2017/18 Jose Mourinho Romelu Lukaku
£76.2m ($99.5m)
2nd N/A
2018/19 Jose Mourinho
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
£53.1m ($69.3m)
6th N/A
2019/20 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Harry Maguire
£78.3m ($102m)
3rd N/A
2020/21 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Donny van de Beek
£35.1m ($45.8m)
2nd N/A
2021/22 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ralf Rangnick
Jadon Sancho
£76.5m ($99.9m)
2022/23 Erik ten Hag Antony
£82m ($93.7m)
3rd EFL Cup

Why do Man United fans dislike the Glazers?

United fan distaste for the Glazers dates back to their original takeover with supporter groups publicly voicing their disagreement over the deal.

Some fans tried to block the sale, similar to their revolt against Rupert Murdoch’s bid in the early 90’s, with phoenix groups attempting to buy smaller blocks of shares to frustrate the Glazers.

The eventual sale caused a split within United fans, with those completely opposed to it, forming the breakaway club of FC United of Manchester in the non-league pyramid, as concerns of debt association persisted.

Issues over saddling debt onto United is the primary concern for fans with United virtually debt-free prior to the arrival of the Glazers.

Some sections of fans are unhappy at a perceived detachment of the Glazers from the practicalities of running a Premier League club.

The attempted European Super League move has been viewed as a deal breaker by the majority of supporters however, with the ownership’s disregard for fans pushing thousands of them to protest.

Have there been other protests against the Glazers?

Protests over the Glazers have been ever present across the last two decades stretching from the creation of FC United in 2005 and the ‘Love United Hate Glazer’ banners at Old Trafford through the fan-backed Red Knights in 2010, who wanted to reduce the club debt, and they continue to the present day.

In 2018-19 fans charted planes to fly a ‘Glazers Out’ banner over Old Trafford, and away grounds, with the emerging fan groups continuing the message of spiraling debts being the main concern, not on-pitch performances.

The 2021 storming of Old Trafford made headlines across the globe, as United fans reignited their anger, alongside millions of other fans opposed to their own club’s involvement in the Super League project.

What other sports teams do the Glazers own?

Alongside United, the Glazers have a longstanding ownership of NFL team Tampa Bay Buccaneers, following Malcolm Glazer’s original purchase in 1995.

Glazer bought the club for an NFL franchise record fee of $192 million before passing control over to son Bryan in the early 2000s.

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