Guest Post: Be careful what you wish for; we could do worse than the Glazers

Glazer brothers

In times like these, when there are rumours floating around that the Glazers might sell United, it’s easy as a United fan to get carried away and wish for a belated Christmas present – to get rid of the Glazers once and for all. Even if I don’t believe in these rumours, it’s still good to discuss whether it really is that great or not. I’m not very competent when it comes to economics, but I can let you know what I think in terms of ideology.

If we, just for a minute, look past the economics part; the Glazers are pretty good owners, aren’t they? They don’t interfere with Sir Alex, they just let him to what he does best. Sure, there hasn’t been any big signings the past years and that might be the Glazers’ fault. But looking at where we are now, do we really need any?

And then we take a look to the other side of the town, to City. New signings all the time, no patience with managers, and so on… Do we really want that? Do we really want to become City?

Sure, City do have it much better than we do financially speaking. No debts, they can do whatever they want, whilst it’s the exact opposite for us. We have debts and can’t do whatever we want. As always when it’s politics, it comes down to priorities. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have it like we have it now with the Glazers than how City have it with their owners.

United have deserved their success, City have not. United get money through success, City get success through money. If you want a one-sentence description of the main difference between United and City, there you have one. What City (and of course, we shall not forget about Chelsea too) do is against everything I stand for in football. I don’t want United to become a part of that.

Say if Sir Alex retires soon and we have a couple of bad years after that, maybe we finish sixth and seventh for a few years, and we get bought by owners like City’s (not them, but someone like them), and all they would do then is to spend, spend, spend money on players and sack our managers whenever they feel like it. Let’s just say that happens (to be honest, it’s not too unlikely), I’m not sure I would call myself United fan after that. Because, as I said, it’s against everything I stand for in football. And you may disagree, and call me what you want for that, but that’s how I feel.

Regarding the pure economics part with City and United, I copied and paste a summary by @supermomo76 on Twitter (follow him, he’s brilliant):

You need sustainable success, which means the club has to use its own funds. Look at Chelsea now, no money to spend. Throughout history, no single establishment lasted if wasn’t based on a business model. City has no business model. As for the debt free issue, it’s debatable, because you would then pay taxes around 28% and dividends too. The club’s value is around £1.2b and the debt is £509m (debt to assets ratio %42), which is acceptable. The £23m paid to service the debt/bond would have gone out of the club as dividends anyway.

Having said that, if a new owner comes and pay the debt, don’t you think he would want his investment back too? We have to be realistic. We don’t want to hate the Glazers just for the sake of it. Qataries or any Arabic royal family will destroy United. And this comes from an Arab. The Glazers are astute business family, made their money from scratch they will protect their investment. But others who woke up on oil fields didn’t work for their money and will not care about it at all.”

At last, I want to thank The Gaffer (ManUtd24) for this opportunity to write a guest blog here. It’s been a pleasure and I appreciate it very much. My name is Erik Jonsson and at Twitter you find me with the name “jonssonmufc”.

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23 responses to “Guest Post: Be careful what you wish for; we could do worse than the Glazers”

  1. The Gaffer says :

    First of all, excellent piece.

    As the blog author, I’d like to confirm my position. It’s a bit different to what I usually write on this site, in fact it’s not all that optimistic like many of our posts, but a good read nonetheless.

    I’m pretty anti-Glazer, as I’m sure you are. However, it is interesting, with all the reports coming in about new owners, that we look at this issue. I certainly wouldn’t like City-like owners, because, as you say, they’re against everything football should be about.

    It’s still Love United Hate Glazer for me.

    • jonssonmufc says :

      Thanks.

      Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I don’t Glazers as our owners either. But regarding what options that are out there maybe we should be careful what we wish for.

  2. philgatt says :

    Excellent post about something that’s close to our hearts.
    We need to open our eyes, and rather than ‘beg’ for any rich billionaire to come along and get us rid of the Glazers, we need to make sure any prospective new owner is the right one for the club we love.
    As things stand, United are a very well run club. Unfortunately the debts are like a noose around the club’s neck. Hopefully it won’t tighten enough to make us another L’pool (God forbid).

    As always, COME ON UNITED!!!

  3. Brian says :

    I think maybe the author would do well to have a read through this and see if you still feel the same way mate.

    http://andersred.blogspot.com/p/about-this-blog-and-about-me.html

    • jonssonmufc says :

      I understand the problem, but I also feel it’s a bit overhyped. And as it stands now I’d rather have it like it is than getting City-like owners. That’s not football to me.

  4. Raz Al Ghul says :

    What a ridiculous article. Why should United have to finish sixth or seventh? They were well ahead of everyone but Chelsea and now apparently have to sell to buy. A nett spend of £10million in 6 years of Glazer ownership.

    Nobody wants to be bailed-out or even funded by an owner; they just want what was and is fair.

    You might stop supporting them if the club were bought but you’d be in a minority so small that it wouldn’t matter. The club have lost at least 5,000 hardcore matchday attending fans, which you may also be to be fair, simply because they object to the owners.

    Ronaldo or Obertan?

    • jonssonmufc says :

      I say IF United finish sixth or seventh, not now, but in a couple of seasons when SAF has retired.

      I know it wouldn’t matter, most of the fans would still be supporting United if that would happen. And I don’t judge, I just said what I would do.

      The Ronaldo sale has nothing to do with the Glazers. He wanted to leave, he made that clear. And read Sleepy_Nik’s paragraph below about that as well.

  5. Sleepy Nik says :

    Hi Erik

    Nice blog and touching on a subject which is emotive and important to almost every red; I think there is some credence in your argument and not only because of the “ideology” of purported owners.

    I find the fanatic anti-Glazer camp wonderfully naive – not only for thinking that any fan-owned entity (such as FCU for e.g.) would provide a more stable and sound business-model for a successful football club, and thinking that such a model would be free from capitalist, consumer driven globalisation (and all the various facets of a split-board, ego-driven un-evidenced, and subjective judgements/business decisions that come with that), inevitably leading down one road, and one road only: A PLC and a sure-fire certainty for potential foreign investment in the name of profit; but because at best, the (fanatic) protest encourages the owners to dig their heels in even more and stay the course (they set a timeframe and they will stick to it despite our vocal dissent), and at worst it divides a once famous support and loving football family; a close-nit and knowledgeable family which has been the envy of the footballing world, and long before the Busby Babe tragedy. Impaled relationships which have seen thousands desert the 11 men and our leader, those very people for whom we have apportioned such a large dose of our emotional and physical resources – the team and manager in short, who now need our vocal support more than ever.

    Andersred (mentioned above) espouses this hypocrisy/short-termism when he says: “Because being legal and “normal business practice” should not be the only test of what we allow to happen to organisations in which people of all backgrounds invest such emotional energy and which are social and communal entities and not just businesses.” – – – – Instead of directing his ire and protest towards the very people who allowed this to happen, i.e. the Premier League (albeit without F.A. regulations and control), he aims directly where the Glazers want him (and MUST) to: Their smug contrite happy faces; having been allowed to take over with ridiculous ease …

    Moreover, he goes on to say the following “Despite protestations to the contrary, there is clear evidence that the proceeds from the sale of Ronaldo will be used to pay the Glazer family’s own debts and that the funds will be replaced by new club borrowings.” – – – which of course has now been dis-proved entirely in recent weeks with the latest news of the PIK repayment and money available to spend in the summer (though again, aside from VDS, Scholes, Nev, Giggs, not much will be required).

    “None of the achievements of Sir Alex Ferguson and the team have happened because of the Glazers.” – – – This is all too true, but nor have the Glazers caused any major ructions within the club or failed to support Sir Alex in any way he has requested; The outrageous claims that the latter has taken money to offer his full support can only be uttered by the most un-knowledgeable and angst-ridden ‘fans’; Have they any idea how single-minded and utopian the great Scot is in this regard.

    The Glazers are wholly unsavoury owners, but a product Im afraid of the capitalist world in which we live, and one that was foreseen long before 2005 by this fan. The debt entrenched on the club is a disgrace but one that I think is sufferable in the short-term; one which I dont think will put this great club into eternal jeopardy ultimately – – which is why I urge all the “fanatics” to reclaim their passion, their love and their life and get back through them turnstiles (it was bearable paying into the SKY-obssessed Edwards, it is bearable now) to support a team which hasn’t done so badly in recent years – but could do a whole lot better returning to the way things used to be ….UNITED.

  6. Raz Al Ghul says :

    I know why Ronaldo left, Jonsson. I am curious why United didn’t United spend the monies, though? They used to buy from positions of strength. Not right now.

    There are two mitigating factors for the lack of expenditure during the last couple of years: one, is the fact the global recession hit, which inevitably effected their business plan; and the second would be the very true argument that the Glazer family did reinvest fairly prior to that. The former, though, is not the club’s fault.

    To suggest that you’d stop supporting United if the Glazer family sold is a truly ridiculous statement and you’re putting the cart before the horse; it’s too early to judge their ownership, yet.

    • jonssonmufc says :

      It’s never been the United way to buy players with the amount of money like the money they got from the Ronaldo sale. Instead United bought a brilliant player in Valencia (no, he’s not Ronaldo, I know) and a young promising player in Obertan (okey, he hasn’t turned out to be the player we want, but it still is a typical United signing, young and promising).

      I’m not saying I will stop supporting United if the Glazers sell United. I say I will stop supporting United if our next owners turn out to be similar to the owners at City right now.

  7. Porrig says :

    “The Glazers are astute business family, made their money from scratch they will protect their investment.”

    Erm, no. Malcolm Glazer may have made his own money, but his kids (who sit on the club board) were born into his wealth, so no different really to an Arab prince.

    And as Andersred has pointed out on numerous occasions, their real estate business is hardly thriving during this global recession.

    I also disagree with this “the Glazers don’t interfere with Fergie” line. How on earth can you know that when they’re so full of contempt for their own customers (I.e. us, the fans), that they’ve never made any public starements to allay our fears, or explain themselves.

    The basic premise of your article is fine, a sugar daddy may be worse than the Glazers, but there’s nothing positive about the Glazer regime. Just ask those former season ticket holders who’ve been going to Old Trafford for generations and now can’t due to the hike in season ticket prices.

    • jonssonmufc says :

      Well, sure, I don’t know if they actually interfere with SAF. But they don’t do it City-like. I’m pretty sure if we had City’s owners they would, after last season when we “only” won the CC, put pressure on SAF with spending high amounts of money on new players and so on.

      I’m not saying the Glazers are good owners, no. But, in my opinion, they are much better than “Sugar daddy’s”. And that’s the main positive thing for me.

    • Raz Al Ghul says :

      Jonsson,

      I have heard no-one say United need or want a “Sugar Daddy”. Just not someone who is forced to rape value out of the club in order to retain ownership.

      In regards to being big spenders: Law, Robson, Cole, Berbatov, Veron, Van Nistelrooy, Rooney, Pallister, Stam, Keane, Anderson, Nani, Hargreaves, Ferdinand and many others were all very high priced buys, at the time of purchase.

      Unlike other clubs, United are better at getting value for money and are astute, plus we try to appreciate home-grown players; but the fundamental difference between us and Real, Barce, Juve, City et al, is that we generate our own funds.

      In the spirit of objectivity, SKY money did help United and so did the transition to a PLC, but I didn’t see either of those things enabling Sheffield United, Tottenham Hotspur or Nottingham Forest to win the Champions League. That’s because we’re Man United.

      The club still generates much disposable income, but in the last couple of years RFJV have needed it, so the club have been unwilling to reinvest it. I am not privy to any information that we are unable to, just my suspicion but, taking all things into account, under different owners, do you think such a driven character as the gaffer would have already resolved the issues of Owen Hargreaves and Darron Gibson?

      Ultimately, if I had a choice between United being competitive [and perhaps even being supplemented slightly] under a Bill Gates/a Qatari Holdings/a Warren Buffet or being self-righteous that “at least it’s the Glazers”, then I’d go with being competitive and seeing us win, week in and week out.

      All of the above said, though, the Glazers did reinvest prior to the collapse and for that they are due some patience. If they keep us on track, then that’s great but so they should.

  8. justin mottershead says :

    Congratulations on having the balls to write a revisionist view on the Glazers.
    One of the saddest facets of this whole anti-glazer saga is the way its divided many United fans to the point of conflict.
    I know fans often disagree – Carrick’s mint, no he’s rubbish, I won’t forgive Rooney, I will etc. But the level of anger I’ve seen from 1 Red to another when it comes to the Glazers is shocking.
    Its almost unthinkable by many if you don’t wear the Green n Gold and get a LUHG tattoo on your forehead.
    I was dead against the Glaxers at first but have mellowed somewhat towards them as the alternatives look less enticing. The whole Red Knights idea sounds like a recipe for disaster as I can’t see 20 businessmen agreeing on how to run the club all the while doing it for ‘love’ not profit.
    I’m equally as sceptical about some oil men who’ve just discovered a sudden love of football. I’m no big fan of the Glazer family but the term “better the devil you know” springs to mind.
    I look forward to reading more of your work.

    • jonssonmufc says :

      Hey, thanks for your comment.

      Good comment. As you say, it feels like nowadays you have to hate Glazers with all your heart to be considered a “real” United fan. But actually I’ve been noticing that there are quite a few United fans who actually feel the way I do too, just that I think many don’t want to say it due to the abuse they will get.

      Thanks for your nice comments as well. Really appreciate it.

  9. jonssonmufc says :

    Raz Al Ghul:
    (I answer here instead)

    I haven’t either heard someone say they want a Sugar-daddy, because right there’s no reason to want that. We are still competing for every title every year. But you’re saying yourself you would want one if things go bad. All I’m saying is that what’s we’ll get in those oil people from Qatar, and I’m giving my point of view about it.

    Yes, United find value on the market. City, for example, don’t.

    Re Gibson: It’s not the first time SAF has given a lot of time to a player he believes in. He did the same with Nani, Anderson, and especially Fletcher. I think that has nothing to do with the situation with the Glazers.

    Re Hargo: I think everyone thought he would be back some time ago, SAF included. Now his contract expires in the summer, and he will probably leave then. It’s not like any club would want to buy him at the moment (and haven’t wanted to either when he’s been injured).

    We have different opinions about potential Sugar-daddy’s in the future. You could take one if we need it, and I respect you for that. But I disagree, and then there’s no reason to keep on arguing about it.

    And I should add again I’m not competent enough discussing about the economical part. If you feel like you want discuss it then you should do it with Supermomo76, not me.

  10. Raz Al Ghul says :

    Good comment, Sir. It is all about opinions and about enjoying supporting United. Right now, the owners are not really an appropriate topic, whatever the opinion. 🙂

  11. Hermano says :

    I don’t know what the fuss is about all what the author is saying is simple we shouldn’t do a animal farm. After the animals outsted Mr.Jones they blunder(behaving like the humans whom they originally revolted against). If we should kick out the Glazers, we should be careful with the new owners(though we don’t have a majority say on that). Under Glazers there have been no supreme interference in the dressing room. Man City have money but don’t have the peaceful dressing room like us. Yes we the Glazers have their vices but also have their merits. Most mancunians are angry over no-big name signings primarily because of the debt the Glazers brought(it hurts me also) Money sometimes bring problem, more money more problem. IT IS GOOD TO BE WITH THE DEVIL YOU KNOW THAN THE ANGEL YOU DON’T KNOW!

    • jonssonmufc says :

      I don’t know what you’re main point is, but I agree with you anyway. My main point however is that we should take it easy to shout the Glazers off, because our next owners could be worse.

  12. Michael says :

    There is no oil in Qatar, its gas !!!!

    Lets just see what happens. I am not dead against a Qatari takeover, my question is (i live in australia) has Harrods changed much since QH took over, i know that Mr Al-Fayed still is heavily involved in the store even though he no longer owns it??

  13. GlazerFan says :

    Just because the Glazers don’t run around talking to every member of the press begging the fans to love them does not mean they are money-grubbing or apathetic. They bought a successful franchise and want it to succeed, long term. Period. THEY CARE! It’s just not their way to be all over the press. They hire good people to run the team and get out of their way. They have not denied any monies for any players Sir Alex has wanted. Look at their Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They won the Super Bowl with a team that was peaking, age-wise. Rebuilt and now have a dynamic team positioned to contend for years to come. How about fans stop projecting their own fears and cheer the team on.

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