Financial Times: ManU Owners Value Profits Over Trophies As They Run Club As Business
With a warning that results "have not lived up to our standards," the Glazer family "lost patience and fired" their NFL club’s coach, Greg Schiano, according to Kuper & Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Some fans of the Glazers’ other club, ManU, "want the same fate for their manager too." David Moyes -- who succeeded Alex Ferguson last May -- "has overseen three United losses in seven days, an exit from the FA Cup, and the club has all but forfeited the league title it won 12 times in 21 years." Chief culprits for United’s slide "are probably the Glazers themselves." Almost uniquely in football, they "run their club as a profit-seeking business." With Ferguson gone, the family’s pursuit of profits "is now likely to impede United’s pursuit of trophies." Private equity-style management "has squeezed investment in the U.K.’s most famous sports club." The Glazers "represent a new kind of football club owner to have emerged in recent years: the profit-driven investor, usually American." There are now six U.S. majority owners of Premier League clubs, including John Henry at Liverpool and Stan Kroenke at Arsenal. They "seek to earn money from their clubs rather than winning at all costs." That makes them different from the “sugar daddies” -- the sheikhs and oligarchs "who treat their clubs as playthings and throw money at them." A "conflict between the two kinds of owner now looms." Yet the Glazers, who gave Moyes a six-year contract, "intend to keep him." They "expected a bumpy transition." The Glazers "are patient" partly because -- unlike most of ManU’s fans -- they "are not desperate for trophies." The business plan "is predicated on finishing third in the Premier League and reaching the Champions League quarter-finals." The Glazers know that with the third-highest wage bill in England, and without Ferguson, third place "is a realistic expectation." Even missing the Champions League for a year or two "would not be disastrous." In the U.S., many sports franchises, including the Buccaneers, "make profits." The American investors who have bought English football clubs in recent years "have aimed to do the same, or at least to make a large capital gain when selling." Their cost-consciousness "puts them at odds with the sugar-daddy owners, who have driven up spending on players." The profit seekers "want to drive it down" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 1/10).