Glazer Family at a Manchester United game

Are the Glazer Family Really THAT Bad as Manchester United Owners?

The toxicity between Manchester United fans and the Glazer family is well known. From the leveraged buyout to the Super League participation to the continuous debt and dividends, Manchester United fans are not short of reasons that make them wish to see the back of their American owners.

But looking at the issue from another perspective, is there a case to be made for the hugely unpopular American owners to feel hard done by?

A Sporting Success

One of the main reasons that exacerbated the issue between Manchester United fans and the Glazer family was the lack of sporting success since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Yet, during the American owners 20-year ownership, only Manchester City and Chelsea had more trophies and sporting success than Manchester United.

Manchester United has won every trophy during the period of American ownership. 5 Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League, 5 league cups, an FA Cup, a Club World Cup, and a Europa League trophy—this is a CV that 95% of the owners of football clubs around the world would dream to have. The sporting success during their era was matched only by Manchester City, a state backed club, and Chelsea, a club financed by an oligarch.

The obvious answer will be that most of this was mainly a Sir Alex Ferguson success, but it is worth noting that the American family stuck with Sir Alex Ferguson and did not opt to hire their own man when they bought the club. An argument can also be made; if they were that successful with Sir Alex Ferguson, are they really the issue?

Commercial Giants

While football is the sport of the people, it is delusional to think that you can succeed in football right now without being a commercial powerhouse. During the American ownership era, Manchester United have been transformed into a commercial giant despite their lack of on-pitch success since Sir Alex Ferguson.

Sponsorships in every conceivable way have been signed; the club had the highest shirt sponsorship deal and the highest shirt deal in the football club’s history. The Glazers have managed to explore and squeeze every commercial revenue that could be exploited.

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During the era of FFP and PSR, the commercial aspects of a football club were as important as the footballing side. The Glazers have managed to make Manchester United a top-5 football club on the commercial side, mainly every year. That commercial success helped the club spend more than $1 billion on transfers in the last 10 years with Manchester United, never being the subject of a PSR breach investigation or non-compliance with FFP rules during that time.

An Enviable Position

Manchester United fans won’t care about any of that and will always look at the era after Sir Alex Ferguson as the definition of failure. But taking an objective look at the period, Manchester United are in an enviable position that 95% of the clubs in England and Europe would trade anything to be in.

Manchester United finished below sixth once in the Premier League; the club missed European football only for one season. The club can fork out $200 million casually every transfer window on players. Looking at the clubs around Europe, Barcelona are pulling levers every day, and Juventus have been suspended from European football and have played in the Serie B.

AC Milan has been changing hands between American investment funds almost every year, and the owner of Inter Milan has to take out a loan to pay wages. Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest—two clubs who won the Champions League—now just dream of reaching the competition again,, and in the Nottingham Forest case, just stay in the Premier League. Everton, a nine-time League winner, is now a relegation fighter every year and has been deducted 6 points due to a lack of financial accountability.

A case could be made that even Liverpool and Arsenal would do anything to have Manchester United’s financial power and the ability to spend freely on players. Also, a case could be made that some Chelsea fans would prefer to be in a Manchester United position instead of the mess they see in their club right now .

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The club still has the ability to sign a five-time Champions League winner from Real Madrid and poach the Newcastle Sporting Director with ease. Which clubs in the English and European football pyramid would not dream of Manchester United’s position? A huge financial power and a guarantee of European football almost every year. Only Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG, and maybe Liverpool and Arsenal would not want to be in Manchester United’s position.

The Glazers have managed to keep Manchester United in the elite category, and looking at the clubs around England and Europe is not something easy to do, especially after the departure of a legendary manager.

Success Is Not Guaranteed

The Sir Alex Ferguson Era has made Manchester United fans feel entitled to success, but football and life always happen in cycles. After the legendary Sir Matt Busby, Manchester United have been relegated to the championship, and they have spent years not winning a league or a European title.

Not just Manchester United, though, Liverpool have spent 30 years not winning a league title and have been feeding on scraps from winning some cups. Arsenal did not win the Premier League for 20 years and never won a European Trophy. Even after the Sir Alex Ferguson era, Manchester United have never finished in the league as low as Arsenal and Liverpool did during the past decade. Manchester United also won more European trophies than Arsenal while reaching more finals.

In Spain, Real Madrid spent more than a decade and a half living in Barcelona shadow. AC Milan, a seven-time UEFA Champions League winner, can barely pass the group stage in the European elite competition now, and has won 2 league titles in the last 20 years. Juventus have not won the Serie A for 4 years now and have just been suspended from European football for a season.

Few clubs enjoy the period of dominance Manchester United fans have enjoyed during the Sir Alex Ferguson era, but this should not make the fans entitled to continuous success, as success happens in life in cycles. Even during the “worst period,” Manchester United have finished second in the Premier League twice, won a European Trophy, reached the final of another one, won 2 league cups, and won an FA Cup.

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Tell that to fans of 95% of the clubs in the European football pyramid, and they will exchange their club situation with the Manchester United situation in a heartbeat.


To this date, Manchester United still has an academy player in the squad, keeping a long-standing tradition. Instead of turning the academy into a money-making machine, it still offers players a path to the first team. Manchester United are also one of the most progressive clubs in supporting social causes, and the club foundation does an amazing job in the Manchester community. During the COVID-19 era, the club did not use the scheme of redundancies for employees that Arsenal and Liverpool used.

The hugely unpopular American owners have also kept ticket prices frozen for 11 years while inflation was rising and the price of everything else was increasing. Even when they opted to sell a stake in the club, they sold it to a Manchester United fan and a Manchester-born billionaire instead of selling the club soul to investment funds. The Glazers have kept Manchester United in the elite club category throughout their era, had a sporting success that few owners can brag about, and turned Manchester United into a commercial powerhouse that few clubs in Europe can match and most clubs in Europe envy.

The American owners will never be popular, and they will never have the love and trust of Manchester United fans, but there is a case where they are the ones who should feel harshly judged.

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