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SBD Global/May 30, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Malcolm Glazer's Legacy As Manchester United Owner Examined Following Death

ManU Owner Malcolm Glazer died on Wednesday at age 85.
ManU and NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers Owner MALCOLM GLAZER, who died aged 85 on Wednesday, "enjoyed sporting success as an owner on both sides of the Atlantic but will be remembered very differently in Tampa Bay and Manchester," according to Nick Mulvenney of REUTERS. In Florida, "he was the man who shelled out" a then record $192M in '95 to buy one of the NFL's least successful franchises and turned them into Super Bowl winners eight years later. Under his ownership, ManU "enjoyed much more success," but the manner of his '05 takeover "made him a divisive figure at a club he never visited." The Buccaneers "led a outpouring of tributes from around the NFL" for a man they described as "a pioneering thinker." ManU "later responded to the news with their own statement. " It "is unlikely, however, that Glazer will be mourned by many fans of one of the best known and supported clubs in the world." A vocal group of ManU fans, whose motto is "Love United, Hate Glazer," has "never forgiven the family for loading the club with debt" in a £790M pound takeover in '05 (REUTERS, 5/29).

FAMILY MATTERS: In London, Mark Ogden reported while the death of Glazer "will have no immediate effect" on ManU's day-to-day affairs, the long-term implications "may only become clear through the actions of the three unknown Glazers on the Old Trafford board." KEVIN and EDWARD GLAZER, and their sister, DARCIE GLAZER KASSEWITZ, "are the low-profile members of the family, but they own the same stake in United" as the club's co-Chairs JOEL and AVRAM GLAZER and Dir BRYAN GLAZER. Joel, Avram and Bryan "are regular visitors to Old Trafford for first-team fixtures, but while Kevin is known to have attended at least one United game, Edward and Darcie have shown less inclination to make the trip from Florida to Manchester during the family's nine-year reign as the club's owners" (TELEGRAPH, 5/28).

LARGE SHADOW: The BBC wrote for someone who "never actually set foot inside Old Trafford," Glazer "casts an extraordinarily large shadow" over ManU. Glazer's stewardship "split the United fan base." Some "were ambivalent, preferring to concentrate on matters on the field." The majority "were vehemently opposed." There were plenty -- including, DAVID BECKHAM -- "who maintained their association with United but made their feelings plain by wearing the green and gold colours of the club's first ever strip, which protestors adopted as their uniform of choice" (BBC, 5/29). In London, Lewis Smith reported even after a decade of continued success, however, many ManU fans "accused him of using the club’s money-making capacity to finance other debts rather than using it to invest in transfers and the club’s future." The club "was debt-free when he bought it but now has debts" amounting to £400M ($668M). He "borrowed to finance the purchase and then used the profits to pay off interest" (INDEPENDENT, 5/28).

NOT A FAN: In London, Jim White wrote "To paraphrase" JOHN F. KENNEDY, when he took over the club, Glazer "was not interested in what he might do for Manchester United." He "was solely motivated by what Manchester United might do for him." Glazer "had no concern about being a custodian of the club’s history, tradition and cultural standing." He "was not a fan." What attracted him to the most profitable football business in England "was straightforward: he was in it for the money." Glazer "had many charitable interests at home in Florida." He "was also a family man, and his passing will be mourned." But "he was an owner who should never have been allowed into English football" (TELEGRAPH, 5/29). In London, David Anderson wrote "judging by all the noises coming out of Old Trafford, nothing will alter in the running of Manchester United." Although some ManU fans "will not mourn Glazer's passing, he was shrewd enough to follow one important business maxim -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Unlike some foreign owners, who "try to pick the team for their managers or drag them half way round the world for meetings, Glazer took a back seat completely and never interfered." The Glazers "are far from being absentee landlords." Although Glazer's shadow "never darkened the door at Old Trafford, Joel, Avram and their brother Bryan are regular visitors" (DAILY MIRROR, 5/29).
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