Manchester United: Police arrest 10 Utd fans in dawn raids over violent Old Trafford protests in May

Playing a huge role in the doomed European Super League was just the latest in a long line of actions which has irked the United fanbase, leaving thousands disillusioned with their football club.

The Glazer family, along with Liverpool’s America owner John W. Henry, were said to be the driving force behind the plan which also brought in Arsenal, Tottenham and belatedly Manchester City and Chelsea. The latter pair were understood to be reluctant to put their names to the plan, and swiftly pulled out once the backlash was felt.

A photograph, taken in October 2017, showed United co-owners Avi Glazer and Joel Glazer dining around a table at a fancy New York restaurant, along with the fellow ‘Big Six’ owners. 

(L-R) Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Man United co-owners Avi Glazer and Joel Glazer and Liverpool principal owner John W Henry met up for dinner in New York in October 2017. Was this the day the Super League took a giant step towards being created?

At the time, Sportsmail reported how television rights could well have been on the agenda of their meeting because the three sides had been agitating for a greater slice of the pie. But now experts believe the project that has sparked a ‘nuclear war’ in world football may have been on the menu.

Instead of splitting the income equally between 20 Premier League teams, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United wanted a model similar to Spain, where Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid – coincidentally also founder members of the Super League get more of the cash. All six are part of the ‘dirty dozen’ of clubs now signed up.

The extraordinary meeting re-emerged as UEFA’s boss has slammed the billionaire ‘snakes’ and ‘liars’ behind the European Super League as it was revealed Boris Johnson will meet the FA, Premier League, the PFA and fans today and vowed to give the £4.3billion breakaway competition ‘the red card’ even though rebel clubs are signed up until 2046.

 A section of the United fanbase opposed Glazer’s initial takeover of the club back in 2005, particularly once they realised the level of debt that the club would have to take on after having been debt-free for so many years. 

The much-maligned Glazer family have failed to get the fans onboard since buying the club as supporters continue to demand change

The much-maligned Glazer family have failed to get the fans onboard since buying the club as supporters continue to demand change

The way the Americans have been running the club has led to constant fury regarding United being used as cash cow

The way the Americans have been running the club has led to constant fury regarding United being used as cash cow

In their anger, fans launched a breakaway football club F.C. United of Manchester in 2005, which entered the North West Counties Football League and played in the sixth tier National League North from 2015 to 2019. 

Since 2005, the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust has been working on a way of wrestling control away from the Glazer family and returning ownership of the club to supporters. In 2010, the fan organisation met with a group of wealthy United fans – dubbed the ‘Red Knights’ – to discuss a billion-pound takeover bid. However, the bid fell through when the Red Knights refused to meet the Glazers’ valuation of the club.

On 29 June 2005, on their first visit to Old Trafford after the takeover was completed, Joel, Bryan and Avram Glazer were met with protests by around 300 Manchester United fans who opposed the club’s new ownership. 

Around 100 members of Greater Manchester Police were called to the stadium in an attempt to quell any violence, but there were reports of missiles being thrown at the police vans and strong, impassioned chants against the Americans; two people were arrested. 

The vice-chairman of Shareholders United, Sean Bones, declared that ‘the Glazer family are the enemies of Manchester United.’ Club director and former player Bobby Charlton issued a public apology to the Glazers for the reception they received. 

The debt taken on by the Glazers to finance the takeover was split between the club and the family; between £265 million and £275 million was secured against Manchester United’s assets, putting the club into debt for the first time since James Gibson saved them in 1931.

In total the Glazers have taken an estimated £200million from the club in dividends since they loaded £540m of borrowings on what had been a debt-free club when they launched their takeover in 2005. 

At Old Trafford, the Glazers remain silent owners and are rarely seen around the club on match days. Much of the day to day running of the club was left to former chief Ed Woodward, who recently announced he would be resigning from his position at the end of the year, in light of the Super League disgrace. 

Woodward was a key figure in fiercely controversial plans for the new breakaway league, with his links to US investment bank JP Morgan helping to secure the £4.3billion in financing.

After publicly confirming his decision, Woodward said: ‘I am extremely proud to have served United and it has been an honour to work for the world’s greatest football club for the past 16 years.

‘The club is well positioned for the future and it will be difficult to walk away at the end of the year.’

Woodward will leave United after eight years at the helm and 16 years after he first became involved as part of the £790million takeover at Old Trafford by the Glazers in 2005.

He has been credited with overseeing a 500 per cent growth in commercial revenue from £47m in 2005 to £279m in 2020, but also criticised for opening up the United brand to ‘noodle sponsorships’ around the globe.

Woodward has been held responsible by supporters for United winning only three trophies during his time in charge, and his Cheshire home was targeted by an angry mob in January 2020.

 

United initially joining the European Super League has led to a wave of fans calling for change and caused the mass protest

United initially joining the European Super League has led to a wave of fans calling for change and caused the mass protest

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