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Man Utd fans´ trust voice Glazer concerns

The Manchester United supporters’ trust say opposition to the club’s owners is still strong eight years after they took over.

The Glazer family did not receive a warm welcome when they used leveraged debt to acquire the English Premier League giants in 2005.

And their decision to float United’s shares on the New York stock exchange in August did little to increase their popularity.

The move was perceived as an attempt by the Glazers to improve their personal position rather than further the club’s football interests.

And the chief executive of the Manchester United supporters’ trust, Duncan Drasdo, has maintained the American owners continue to show no signs of putting the needs of the supporters first.

“My opinion of the way they operate – and the way they have operated – hasn’t changed,” Drasdo said.

“The flotation was bang on course – the exact same business behaviour that they’ve exemplified all (the way) through. It was pretty aggressive.

“They’ve got an iron grip still on the voting rights. And there’s no dividends payable on the shares, either, at least for the foreseeable future.

“And I think that looks like business people who are looking after themselves first and foremost and not custodians of the football club, which is what we’d really like to see.”

As a case study of foreign ownership in modern British football, the Glazer regime has been criticised for its perceived alienation of the club’s fan base.

“I don’t feel as close to Manchester United now under the Glazers as I did when I was also a shareholder of the club,” Drasdo said.

“I owned part of the club, and I felt that was an important part of my support and relationship with the club.

“You get that in Germany, where the fans feel really close to the club, because they are part owners of it – all of them – and so the club looks after them rather than trying to exploit them.”

The announcement of David Gill’s impending departure last week has seen Ed Woodward earmarked as the next club chief executive, and Drasdo considers his name synonymous with the Glazers’ influence.

“Edward Woodward had been appointed and had become increasingly influential,” Drasdo said.

“As I understand it, he was the guy who would talk to the Glazers pretty much on a daily basis, whereas David Gill would only speak to them once a week, if that, when there was some football matter going on.”

“And so in one way, I guess his (Gill’s) role as chief executive was kind of being undermined in that sense because he wasn’t being seen as the most important man in the company from the owners’ point of view.”

Tue 26 February, 2013
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