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Yank-Hating Fans?

As a football fan, you quite often read nonsense that is written about your club, written by out of touch journalists who have long forgotten how it feels to support a club, if they ever supported one at all. Some journalists feel the need to judge football fans, to criticise them, to tell them how they should behave and what they should think.

Having read Jonathan Mahler’s article on the Glazers and our fans, called “Manchester United’s Yank-Hating Fans“, I am genuinely struggling to recall a time I’ve read a more misinformed piece of writing that fails to grasp any of the key issues.

Mahler suggests that we shouldn’t care that the money we invest in our club goes straight in to the Glazer’s back pocket because United win the league fairly regularly. Even if you ignore the fact United won the league regularly before the Glazers, the idea that a fan should be alright with spending hundreds of pounds every season that is then not invested in the team, but instead makes the Glazers richer, is bonkers.

Feel free to read the article in full or just enjoy some of the best bits below.

In the hypercompetitive world of European soccer, winning one title is huge. Winning two is almost unheard of.

United won the Premier League, FA Cup and European Cup in 1999. United won the Premier League and European Cup in 2008. United won the Premier League and FA Cup in 1994 and 1996, Arsenal in 1998 and Chelsea in 2010. Chelsea won the Premier League and the League Cup in 2005, United in 2009. Liverpool won the FA Cup and the League Cup in 2001, Chelsea did in 2007. So, ten times in the past nineteen seasons an English club has won at least two trophies. Hardly unheard of.

Simply by buying a majority stake in Man U in 2005, the Glazers took a big step toward securing the club’s uncertain future. At the time, United’s Irish owners were on the brink of firing its longtime manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, over a dispute about the ownership of a prizewinning horse.

Let’s start with the basics, John Magnier and JP McManus were never our “owners”. They were shareholders who built up a 28.89% stake in the club. In 2004, following a dispute with Ferguson over a racehorse, they requested that the club halt contract extension negotiations with Ferguson while the United directors carried out a probe into his business affairs, and especially his dealings with his football agent son Jason. They instead wanted Ferguson to agree to a one-year rolling contract, instead of signing a lengthier contract. However, a spokesperson for the club confirmed that Magnier and McManus’ request had been rejected and that contract negotiations would continue. “We value his [Ferguson's] services, and we are very keen to secure his services for a further period.”

Regardless, the two men were not in a position to “fire” Ferguson as they were merely shareholders, not owners. But let’s imagine that they had decided to force a takeover, a personal dispute would hardly lead them to sack Ferguson, the most successful manager in English football history, because the share price would plummit and they would be massively out of pocket. To claim that the Glazers saved Ferguson’s job is absolutely absurd.

What sort of thanks did the Glazers get for keeping Ferguson, not to mention loading the club with high-priced talent from around the world? They have been called financial parasites, vandals and strip-miners. More specifically, United’s supporters accuse the Glazers of taking on too much debt and pocketing too much of the team’s profits.

According to BBC, thanks to the Glazers, United have had £500m less to spend than they would have otherwise had. This figure is supported by The Guardian and Forbes. So, it’s not really just an accusation from the supporters, rather a fact, unless Mahler believes £500m over seven years is a reasonable amount to take from the club.

Since the Glazers bought Man U, it has earned four Premier League titles and reached the finals of the Champions League three times, winning it once. These are remarkable results, especially in a sport in which the better team often loses.

Does the best team in the Premier League often not win the title? Over 38 games it is fairly conclusive who the best team is and whilst you might get the odd grumble from fans and managers every now and again, a league campaign is the best way to prove who the best is. Cup competitions are slightly different, with progression and success dependant on just a handful for games. Still, in the Champions League finals United lost against Barcelona, there is no debate over which team was better, and it’s odd to imply there is any doubt. United got battered in 2009 and 2011 and to suggest otherwise is disingenuous. “In a sport in which the better team often loses”? What on earth is he on about?

As for the Glazers, they’re doing pretty well, too, helping themselves to half of the $233 million that Man U raised in last summer’s IPO. (The rest was used to reduce the club’s debt.) Does this make them rapacious Yankees? Maybe. But wouldn’t a better question be: As long as the team keeps winning, why should fans care what its owners do with the club’s money?

Whilst United have enjoyed success during the Glazer ownership, it has not been the most successful period in the club’s history and has been achieved in spite of the Glazers, not because of them. Had United won the league every season whilst the Glazers had been here, then Mahler’s point about us sustaining success would be valid. In 2001 United had arguably the best midfield in Europe, with Roy Keane and Paul Scholes playing centrally, and Nicky Butt (who Pele named his player of the tournament in the 2002 World Cup) on the bench. But United had money to burn and added Juan Sebastian Veron to the mix and broke the English transfer record to do so.

Things are very different now. Between 2008-2013, United have had a net spend of £57m, which works out at around £11m a season. In that same time period, Liverpool have spent 5% more, City have spent 300% more and Chelsea have spent an incredible 600% more. Both City and Chelsea have taken the title off us since 2008, so to suggest we shouldn’t care that the Glazers have taken £500m of the club’s money is ridiculous.


Jonathan has welcomed feedback on his article. If you would like to tell him what you think of it, please contact him here: jmahler11@bloomberg.net or @jonathanmahler. Or contact the editor responsible for this article, Michael Newman: mnewman43@bloomberg.net

 




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29 Comments

  1. AJtheRed says:

    i hate that Yank, what an idiot

  2. keegan4england says:

    Obviously a DIPPER!

  3. King Eric says:

    Soon as I saw “Man U” I stopped reading. Knobhead.

  4. phildo79 says:

    Lazy jouralism, just pure lazy. The facts are out there for everyone to see but this clown probably thinks facts get in the way of a good story.

    “In a sport in which the better team often loses” – classic. It’s a wonder QPR aren’t challenging for the league title going by that rational. What a moron!

  5. Goat Peticoat says:

    A generalisation of course but Mancs have always hated yank. Politically and fundamentally Manchester with its 90% socialist bent will always be in arms against the Americans with their 90% capitalist beliefs. Of course the educated will not “hate” the yanks but maybe listen to them and speak with them with a lottle wariness. The uneducated that make the majority of socialist made up areas just run off at the mouth and concepts such as revenge, hate, biggotry are bread and butter to them. Again just a generalisation.

    I personally have no problems whatesoever with the Glazers taken hundreds of millions of pounds from the United football fan. Not a problem at all. Its not the fans money rather the owners money. Manchester United is a business first and a football team second despite how very strange that sounds. The problem with Manchester United was the size of it. In order for it to be sold to one person you had to find that one person with £1.5bn. Unfortunately there arent that many of them so whomever took over Abramovich included would have to have taken out loans. Why would you buy a business worth 1.5bn and then take nothing out for yourself. If that money was in the bank garnering interest you would stand to lose £100′s of millions a year in interest. The team is competing at all levels what else can you do with the money. Better to allow someone to pay off the debt in buying the company in the first place because once its payed of we will have no limits to our spending power. Limits that we used to have when we were a plc. Imagine now a group of share holders making loses in their other investments deciding to use their voting powers at Manchester United to make decisions regarding the sale of their footballers and increase divident payments to offset their other loses. All very possible. All we had to do was go through a painful process in order to truely become the biggest club in the world. We have the highest earning potential, Forbes tells us that yearly but do we really compete in the transfer market. No not even close. And the Glazers didnt make that so, being a plc did. But we are on the recovery and once the debt is paid we will easily outpay City, Chelsea, Barcelona and MAdrid.

  6. FletchTHEMAN says:

    I read Jonathan Mahler’s effort earlier and was struggling to find a rational way to frame it.
    Repead use of the derogative ManU is not the typical thing you see from even mis informed journalists, so one is left that there is really something quite ABU about it.

    I spend alot of time in the US of A, so regularly hear ESPN coverage of United games. With the likes of Steve McManaman you might expect loads of anti United coverage and that is exactly what you see. But interestingly, Stevie doesn’t use ManU on air, but it comes fast and furious from some of the US professional players who seem to fall over themselves to sound like they speak “the lingo”. To bad that their very language marks them out as being well out of touch, and to easily discounted as hopelessly biased.

  7. AntiScouser says:

    Speaking of the dippers, have you read what N.Sahin had to say about his former employers? Let me just quote one startling reference to his days at Anfield:

    “And maybe if I had not gone there I would not have been able to return to Borussia Dortmund. For that, I am happy. Thank God I have left Brendan Rodgers.”

    Who would have ever imagined in 1989 that, in 25 years time, playing for LFC would only be a springboard for greater success, such as warming the bench at Borussia Dortmund.

  8. Costas says:

    Why bring more attention to garbage like this? Fuck him.

  9. mara says:

    We are successful becuase we have SAF in the club, not the Glazers.
    It is not problem that they earn money, but the problen is that they dont invest enough in the club.and likeyou Scott said ‘ But United had money to burn and added Juan Sebastian Veron to the mix and broke the English transfer record to do so.’
    So when I read articles like this, I m asking myself is freedom of speak really that good? And what is purpose Of freedom? That you can talk something you don’t know nothing about?
    One journalist spoke about Bayern, as perfect club, with highest earnings…of course he don’t know shit about economy. We have, like Goat said, highest earning potencial, but we have no much of that, becausethey take it all.

  10. Swordsy says:

    Does the ‘if your team is winning, who cares what the owners are doing with the money?’ mantra hold true?? Really. ‘If your economy is doing well, who cares what the government is doing with the tax revenues’, would be a similar philosophy. I wonder…are all those now sitting unemployed around the world, still not bothered? Probably not. Short-sighted ideas like this are exactly the cause of a number of the world’s problems, let alone United’s!

  11. kanchelskis says:

    Rio recalled to England. Well, I never.

  12. Goat Peticoat says:

    mara
    You say they take it all but that was my point, a painful process we have to go through.

    If we stayed a plc, Ronaldo may have been sold sooner, Rooney would be gone and all sorts of reccession eccessity bullshit would have come out.
    No one person with 1.5billion came forth to buy United. If a consortium buy a club then all you see is back biting and bitching between the various owners. All that is is a glorified flotation with unleashed dogs as owners.
    So at the beginning there were two choices, stay a plc or sell to someone who didnt have all the money.
    Stay a plc and we stagnate, the money still gets taken from the club in ever increasing dividend payments and that money goes effectively nowhere.
    Sell to the Glazers and you have to endure 10 years of hardship. Hardly hardship as they have raised revenues by 10 fold what they take out. Why because they have an invested interest for United to be rich and grow, unlike share holders. Once the debt is paid and already 35% is paid off from the original loan. Not bad in not so long. The club will be better for it in the end. And we will be able to compete with Barcelona and Real Madrid. Madrid can find 80 million for a Ronaldo and 50 million for a Kaka in the same summer. Only Manchester United could compete with that , in the future.
    Unfortunately that future is a year or two further down the line because the green and gold clan have decided that in their wisdom the best way to stop paying this interest money is to basically not have the money to pay the interest payments. There will always be a loan company prepared to extend a loan for such a profitable company with experienced money earning owners. But the philosophical socialites from Manchester decided cutting your nose off to spite your face was the best method of getting rid of the yanks (oooops I mean debt).

  13. denton davey says:

    Let’s move on – MUFC is a cash-cow that is breeding huge profits so TheGlazers and Glazernomics are going to be in charge for a long time. It’s in their interest to have a winning team on the field. Anyone who thinks that the money they have put into banking fees (interest payments and so on) would instantly translate into more, better, newer players with higher salaries is living in cloud-cuckoo land.

    UTD have a huge squad, high wages, and aren’t afraid to splash-the-ca$h for top players – and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. Besides, if you were a “top player” from, say, Italy or Spain or Argentina or Brazil would you really want to live in M/C if you could have the same income and live in Milan or Rome or Barcelona or Paris or Madrid – or even London ? WeeWesley seems to be happy with life in Istanbul – and a weekly wage of 200,000 quid. Same for Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba – these guys are mercenaries; are they what you want wearing the red shirt in place of, say, Chicharito or Angelo Henriques or Nani (who has never bad-mouthed M/C but just wants more money !)

    If you listen to what SAF says about player-recruitment then it’s evident that he has the money to get players he considers to be “right for UTD”. There’s a selling-job needed to convince for the likes of Shinji Kagawa or Robin Van Persie to opt for M/C instead of choosing Milan or Rome or Barcelona or Paris or Madrid – or even London.

  14. denton davey says:

    Let’s move on – MUFC is a cash-cow that is breeding huge profits so TheGlazers and Glazernomics are going to be in charge for a long time. It’s in their interest to have a winning team on the field. Anyone who thinks that the money they have put into banking fees (interest payments and so on) would instantly translate into more, better, newer players with higher salaries is living in cloud-cuckoo land.

    UTD have a huge squad, high wages, and aren’t afraid to splash-the-ca$h for top players – and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. Besides, if you were a “top player” from, say, Italy or Spain or Argentina or Brazil would you really want to live in M/C if you could have the same income and live in Milan or Rome or Barcelona or Paris or Madrid – or even London ? WeeWesley seems to be happy with life in Istanbul – and a weekly wage of 200,000 quid. Same for Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba – these guys are mercenaries; are they what you want wearing the red shirt in place of, say, Chicharito or Angelo Henriques or Nani (who has never bad-mouthed M/C but just wants more money !)

    If you listen to what SAF says about player-recruitment then it’s evident that he has the money to get players he considers to be “right for UTD”. There’s a selling-job needed to convince for the likes of Shinji Kagawa or Robin Van Persie to opt for M/C instead of choosing Milan or Rome or Barcelona or Paris or Madrid – or even London.

  15. The Left Bank says:

    Great ripose Scott and the rest of everyone here.

    Mr. Mahler has been well and truly schooled in the facts of Manchester United’s financial history.

    For a real spanking see the comments under the very article itself. Even those none-United fans take him to the cleaners.

    Anyone who calls Manchester United Man U can’t be taken seriously.

    To be honest the article was so full of holes that instead of anger I just felt pity for the ‘journalist’ Mahler and perhaps even charitable to pass him a gun to end the shame now.

    This is ‘journalism’? – hahahahahah, nice one Bloomberg.

  16. 0161-Jon says:

    read this article on bloomberg site this morning, the comments under it are bloody superb.

  17. roboo7 says:

    £208.65m net paid between 2008-2013 not 57m.

  18. belfast red. says:

    I actually can,t read anymore of that. After the man u bit i had 2 stop. Just want to punch tha fucking head mead of the ignorant prick!!

  19. gfunk says:

    He’s a glazer ‘mole’. plain and simple!!! And a cunt obv!!!

  20. Marq says:

    The only saving grace about the Glazers is that they don’t mess about with Sir Alex’s plans. Everything else about them is bad. Think about the money that went out of the club, the interest alone could have bought a few Ronaldos I reckon. But that said, we have never been a club that spends tons of money on superstars and yet remain successful, so it worked out for them.

    But then again, what type of owner ship is the best? Sugar daddies are definitely bad, as we have seen, most, if not all of them have next to no patience. A PLC will take forever to agree on transfers, as we have learnt the hard way. Fan ownership is worse than sugar daddies. So our owners have actually been ideal, except for the money part. Guess there is no best deal after all, all of them have their pros and cons. We should be glad that we have Sir Alex managing us, and owners who don’t stick a hand in it.

    And one sad day in the future, when the club is fully paid for, and when our results start to waiver, watch us get sold like a piece of meat when the Glazers decide to cash out on us. And whoever is going to buy us, will likely do the same thing all over again.

  21. Toms says:

    Hate the title too. Opinionated but damn friendly group of fans. Only time I could remember not being welcome is when a bitter old vet was rightfully talking about the history of the rivalry between Manchester and Liverpool and what that meant for the working class man.

  22. leppystew says:

    Dearie me that was one of the most blatantly uninformed articles ive ever had the misfortune to read. not surpised though, not the first or last that will come along with this line of thinking. when americas top sports and clubs or “franchises” (really hate that name for a team) are run the way they are. americans love to think their way is the right way.
    Although it was almost worth reading the article just to read the comments on the bloomberg site. heres hopin jonathan myler will stick to writing about subjects that he actually knows anything about from here on.

  23. Mark Nevin says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Astonishing that such a piece of rubbish could regard itself as serious journalism.

  24. mara says:

    @ Marq i wanted to write the same about the owners. Sometimes i ask myself how can those people get rich when they are actually so stupid? Cant understand that no one saw oportunity to buy United except Glazers. Where were the Arabs? Now they want buy United, when no one wants to sell it and when it s expensive like hell.

    And reason why they dont mess with Saf is the reason that he would go. Who would come to stadium? All that value of the club would fall apart like paper house…

  25. Kagawa The Shirt-seller says:

    Why don’t they pay off the debt sooner and thus can take what would have been “the interest payment” to fill their pockets? In this way it wouldn’t affect the club as much since the interest payment would have gone to the banks instead. A lesser evil.

  26. Marq says:

    @Kagawa The Shirt-seller

    There are many possible reasons

    Could either be that the money is better placed somewhere that grows faster than the bank interest rate charged to the loan, or simply because they don’t have the money to do so. And even if they did have the money, I’m sure banks are not stupid to allow them to fully pay it off immediately, there would definitely be some clause to hold them to earn more interest

  27. Kagawa The Shirt-seller says:

    @Marq
    Then it doesn’t make sense that their last IPO to raise money and paid off over 100+mil of debt and another 100+mil into their pockets.
    Only reason should be they are greedy.
    However to be fair to them, they are really doing wonders in bringing in commercial money into the club like never before. All sorts of sponsorship deals and partnerships. If only they limit the money they take out to 20% a year, the club will be able to invest more in players.
    Damn smart but greedy Yanks.

  28. Marq says:

    @Kagawa

    It is exactly that 100+mil that went into their pocket probably went somewhere else to be invested. Rich people don’t keep money in their banks, they put it into assets.

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