Manchester United co-owner Joel Glazer offered to make shares available to supporters with the same voting rights as shares held by his family.
Manchester United co-owner Joel Glazer offered to make shares available to supporters with the same voting rights as shares held by his family. This is an attempt to heal a rift between fans and owners that deepened after the ill-fated attempt to launch a European Super League.
Talks on Friday marked the first engagement by the Glazers with fans since buying United in a leveraged takeover in 2005. The takeover itself was unpopular, as they loaded debt onto the club and sparked years of protests.
The dissent reached unprecedented levels last month. Unrest around and inside Old Trafford led to United’s game against Liverpool being postponed. In turn, this led to the owning family’s pledge to attend a virtual fans’ forum.
United is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and its market capitalization is more than 2.5 billion.
“Fans are the lifeblood of Manchester United and I am personally committed to ensuring that they are given an enhanced voice,” Joel Glazer said in a statement released by United after the forum.
United plans an advisory board to consult with senior leadership and owners that will be made up of fan representatives.
“Discussions will now intensify, with the aim of agreeing a plan before the start of the new season.”
MUST described the share scheme as a potentially revolutionary idea. However, they cautioned that the devil is always in the detail about offering shares with voting rights.
Joel Glazer said this will be the largest fan ownership group in world sport. However, MUST sees a risk that the scheme will limit the number of such fan shares made available.
In turn, this will reducing the opportunity for this to achieve fan ownership.
United was among the six Premier League clubs responsible for the formation of the European Super League. They joined six other teams to launch a largely closed cup to split from the existing Champions League.
The English clubs backed out inside 48 hours after a backlash from the fans and British government. But they still faced punishments from UEFA.
Along with Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Inter Milan, they signed up to a settlement with UEFA to participate only in the existing open European competitions.
They also accepted giving up 5% of revenue for one season playing in Europe.