United Rant: Malcom Glazer Must Heed The Green-And-Gold Revolution

Ollie Irish

12th, February 2010


By Ed @ United Rant


Make no mistake; this revolution is being televised.

When 10,000 Manchester United fans marched on Old Trafford in summer 2005, most knew then what we know now. The soon-to-be implemented leveraged buyout of United by the American Glazer family would load the club’s books with millions in debt.

Anger was the dominant feeling. After all, the club’s own managing director David Gill prophesised that debt was not only an inappropriate business model for the club but, dramatically, the “road to ruin”.

In the aftermath of takeover, thousands walked away from the club. At least 30,000 gave up their season tickets in protest and many others never returned, forming the ‘Red Rebels’ FC United of Manchester.

Gill had fought off the Glazers’ advances for months – in public at least – as the game of offer and counter-offer between the Americans and United’s Irish investors Cubic Expression played itself out to inevitable conclusion.

Five years on, poacher has turned gamekeeper, with Gill – £1.8 million per year better off – the primary exponent of the leveraged business model that threatens not only United’s hegemony over the English game but the very existence of the club in its current model.

Gill, as the pre-eminent media face of the club’s upper management, has done most to deride supporters’ concerns over the club’s £716 million debt. It’s a debt that will suck at least £565 million from United between now and 2017.

The managing director would be foolish to underestimate the strength of feeling among United supporters this time around.

Five years ago, management’s gamble that supporters’ vocal protest would fade into apathy paid off. Angry as supporters were back then, the brilliance of Sir Alex Ferguson in building yet another great United side tempered the fire in fans’ bellies. It’s hard to proselytise doom when glory is raining down.

Without spending a penny of their own money on the team, the Glazer family successfully bought swathes of United supporters’ financial loyalty.
In 2005 Gill had praised the voice of Shareholders United, an organisation that has since morphed into the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) -the group leading the current round of Old Trafford protests.

If SU had been dammed with faint praise then, it’s not a tactic management is feeling confident enough to repeat now. United fans are angry, militant but most of all, organised.


The brilliantly subtle green-and-gold revolution is rapidly gaining momentum, with more than 30,000 scarves on display last weekend at Old Trafford. Coloured as Newton Heath were back in 1878 when the club was formed as a united railways workers’ team, green and gold is a reminder to the Glazer family of the history United supporters are fighting for.

The simplicity of the hook, together with the five-year-old ‘Love United, Hate Glazer’ (LUHG) moniker has inspired a new generation of protest that is unlikely to be quelled so easily, educated as fans now are to the financial mismanagement of the club.

Anecdotal tales of roughhouse tactics by club employees has only made the protest stronger: supporters ejected from the stadium by overzealous officialdom, fans donning the colours of revolution bared from executive areas and even a veteran steward sacked for returning a confiscated anti-Glazer banner.
The club has tried and failed to cut the protest off at the knees – going so far as to misinform United supporters that banners “not in club colours” are banned from the San Siro for next week’s Champions League clash with AC Milan. They are not.

But green and gold is merely phase one of a revolution that will have serious economic consequences for the owners and quite possibly the club too.
Ownership of United is not a plebiscite. Few in the Glazers’ Tampa base seek the warmth of fans’ love. They do, however, seek cold, hard cash. For every pound supporters spend between now and 2017, the Glazers will suck out 79 per cent in debt interest, dividends and ‘management’ fees.

For the Glazer family, home is where the wallet is. Fans are acutely aware of this fact.

For more news and opinion on Manchester United, check out the excellent United Rant

If you are a football blogger/writer etc. and would like to write a guest post for Pies, simply contact ollie@anorak.co.uk with ‘guest post’ in the subject field. Thanks!

Posted in Man Utd, Opinion

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  1. Chringle says:

    The green and gold scarves are all well and good but you’re all still paying your £50 to get in. Surely a sea of empty seats would be a much more potent protest?

    Anyway, good luck to you. Man Utd deserve better than that family of leeches.

  2. Ollie says:

    Easier said than done, Chringle, even though I agree with you – for every 10,000 fans willing to give up a seat at Old Trafford, there are plenty who will take their places.

  3. AP says:

    Someone’s gotta be making a fortune with these scarves as well.

  4. Franco says:

    I am in full agreement and also worried/scared that the Glaziers might take us down but what we are doing will not get us anywhere unless a) there is another buyer and this could leave us status quo or) there is a group of millionaires who are Manchester United Diehards and are ready to do a Barcelona for us. As it is the Glaziers can walk out on everything and then what?? End up like Portsmouth? I don’t think anyone wants that and please remember that although the PLC module was going great for us then under todays economic crisis we can not have been shore. And once a PLC there is always the chance of something like this happening. My suggestion is to keep things quite till the end of the season, work in the background, and then go on all out offensive when the current season ends. What is happening at the moment is very short sighted as the Glaziers have all the aces in their pack & as they are not football people at heart matters could get much worse if they just walk out without selling. Please be sensible and let us not further damage our club out of love for it. My final parting shot is have a look at Juventus of Italy they were relegated after the last world cup and four years on they still can not challenge for the Italian Serie A an why because in their absence Internazionale made huge strides forward and seem untouchable. Those of you who don’t remember or don’t know how horrid those 26 barren years were. So lets do things calmly.

  5. AlMac says:

    “For every pound supporters spend between now and 2017, the Glazers will suck out 79 per cent in debt interest, dividends and ‘management’ fees”

    Don’t talk rot. United spend something like 60% of every £1 earned on wages.

    There is no doubt the Glazers are making significant amounts of money here, but then again they have increased the value of the club by approximately 50% during the period in which they have owned it. The debt figure is constantly misquoted at c.£700m when there is £100m+ of cash sitting on the balance sheet. The Glazers have wanted to use some of that cash for ages to pay down the PIK notes as they are prohibitively expensive, hence the reason for the bond issue. People need to have some perspective here: most of the major companies in the world are part funded by bonds. The fact that somebody is willing to invest into this club on a bond basis is evidence of the comparative strength of the club. Yes United can’t spend money as if they are Real Madrid but that is because their owner’s actually have a required rate of return on their money. In the long term clubs which are run on the basis of return for investors will be more efficient and have longer term investment in the club and its facilities including the youth setup. The Real Madrid and Manchester City way is the short term way. They are not building for tomorrow just spending for today. Who will bail them out when the money is gone.

  6. Kipp says:

    Sorry guys,

    Does anyone know how the financial sector works? How debt works?

    As football fans i wouldn’t expect everyone to grasp the intricacies of the market. However countries and companies are Billions of pounds in debt. For some it is good.

    We tend to look at debt as consumers. When we engage in debt we are owned by it. When companies owe it, they own it.

    It is often described as a metaphor ‘If you owe a banker £10 it is your problem, owe him £10M and it is his’. Debt is good as long as the company can continue to service it. I ask you has anyone checked how much dividends were costing United season on season? Does it compare to the interest now. You are still paying money for effectively nothing.

    Ollie if you’d like to be the first site to really try to explain this financial thing i’ll gladly bang one out for you. If not you can continue to complain as everyone else is uninformed to the absolute facts of the matter.

  7. KingKeano says:

    “…everyone else is uninformed to the absolute facts of the matter.”

    Kipp, educate yourself before you post such rubbish, mate. Read David Conn’s articles in the Guardian for information on how the debt works.

  8. Andy says:

    At £50 a ticket, there aren’t 10,000 extra fans will to take those 10,000 empty seats. Next season when that prices goes up, there will be less.

  9. Kipp says:

    Everyone in LUHG read the Guardian then?

  10. BBC says:

    Wonder how much silverware United will get during the Green and Gold “revolution.” What a bunch of tools in that fanbase. Revenues soaring, any potential investor couldn’t give a shit about interest nor management fees and the Club is more valuable than when they took it over.

  11. kritter says:

    I’ll bet the Glazers are selling those green/golds themselves to make a few while they can.

  12. Tinez says:

    Brilliant and subtle? Hah, this is neither. This is a mundane protest. Why would the Glazers care about a pointless protest when fans still come to games, still spend £4 on a pie and still buy the red shirt at the start of every season. They don’t care. They’re probably selling this green and gold merchandise, and while that’s not an original thought by any means, it could well be true.

  13. Sam says:

    All very well and good, but why did the Glazers need to borrow £700M to buy the club? because the previous owners sold it for that much. If they sold United for 50p we wouldnt have this problem. someone please tell me im wrong.

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