United need to be released from the Glazers’ shackles, insists supporters trust chief Drasdo after club deny rumours of £2bn takeover by Beckham and Qatari royal family
Manchester United need a new ownership model for the benefit of the club and its fans according to Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of the Red Devils’ Supporters Trust.
The Barclays Premier League champions have rubbished suggestions the Glazer Family have lost interest in the club and a £2billion Qatari bid fronted by David Beckham is poised to take over.
Responding to the reports Drasdo admitted that although a bid from Beckham and Co appears unlikely, the club must be sold in order for it to continue to compete at the highest level.
Rumours: Manchester United have been forced to deny speculation that David Beckham is fronting a bid by the Qatari royal family to buy the club from the Glazer family
Lost interest? There is speculation the Glazer family, who own 90 per cent of the club, are willing to sell. Avram Glazer is pictured at the recent Champions League match with Olympiacos
Class of 92: Beckham, along with former United players (from left) Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs are poised to buy out the club
Bid: (From left) Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Butt, Scholes and Beckham at the premiere of the film ‘ Class of 92’ in December last year
Projects: Beckham has been out in Miami promoting his new MLS franchise
In a statement he said: ‘Whether or not there is any truth in the story of a possible takeover of Manchester United, and we remain sceptical at this stage, it has certainly sparked interest amongst United fans. Undoubtedly the majority of fans would like to see a better ownership model which put the club and fans first rather than the profits of private owners.
‘Gary Neville has recently voiced his admiration for the Bayern Munich structure and that is also similar to the model which the Manchester United Supporters Trust would like to see too. Munich benefit from shared ownership between fans and commercial investors with people with real football backgrounds in positions of power alongside the best professional executives. That combination is potent and has turned Bayern Munich into the powerhouse we see today.
‘Like Munich, United don’t need a Sugar Daddy. We just need to be released from the shackles of the Glazer ownership and allowed to reinvest Manchester United’s own massive revenues for the benefit of the club and fans.
‘Sir Matt Busby always saw Manchester United like a family with the owners, board, players and fans all working together. That is very much our vision too. We’d like to see every Manchester United fan in the world able to own a stake in, and contribute to, their own football club.’
Bad times: Javier Hernandez, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney stand around dejected after Manchester City score the third of their goals in Tuesday’s 3-0 derby win at Old Trafford
According to reports, Beckham and his ‘Class of ’92’ teammates Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and the Neville Brothers are involved in a bid funded by the Qatari royal family.
They have approached the Glazer family – who own 90 per cent of the Old Trafford club – on a number of occasions and the price remains the only stumbling block.
It had been suggested in The Sun that the Glazers have become disillusioned with running the club as they lurch from one disaster to another under David Moyes.
United find themselves seventh in the Barclays Premier League, having just suffered back-to-back 3-0 home defeats to rivals Liverpool and Manchester United, and have been drawn with Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Humiliated: The scoreline at Old Trafford made for grim reading
Nowhere to hide: David Moyes cut a sorry figure on the bench as United slumped to a 3-0 defeat.
But club sources insist the club is not up for sale, with the Glazers determined to stay in charge and oversee a rebuilding job to challenge once again at the top of the table.
Led by brothers Avram and Joel, the Glazer family bought United in 2005 but ceded 10 per cent of their control in a 2012 share issue.
The Sun also reported that horseracing trainer Ged Mason, bookmaker Fred Done and other wealthy fans had been approached over a prospective deal.
A source told the tabloid: ‘The Glazers have lost interest. Everyone knows the club is effectively for sale. It’s just a question of getting the right price where they recoup their money and make a bit to save face.’
United’s share price on the New York Stock Exchange rose by two per cent to $16.14 on Wednesday, valuing the club at £1.6billion.
Boost: Shares in Manchester United rose by $16.14 on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday amid speculation over a prospective takeover bid by the ‘Class of ’92’ star.
Many Manchester United fans have been unhappy with the ownership of the Glazer family since they purchased a controlling stake in the club for £810million in 2005.
The initial protests came as a result of the takeover itself, as the Glazers performed a highly leveraged buyout – effectively dumping £525million debt on the club overnight.
Manchester United’s board had earlier branded the Glazer family’s plans ‘aggressive’.
Debt: The Glazer family (Avram left and Joel right) performed a highly leveraged takeover of Manchester United – effectively dumping £525million debt on the club overnight
Although they paid £270million from their own funds, the rest of the money used to purchase Manchester United came in the form of loans – the majority of which were secured against the club’s assets – which have since incurred interest payments of more than £60million a year.
In the four years up to June 2009, when Manchester United last published their accounts – the club became liable to pay more than £325million in interest alone, not including interest not paid.
This increased the debt the Glazers loaded on to the club to about £700million.
Many supporters felt the Glazer family – who also own the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers – had taken a great risk in their financial dealings.
Revolt: Manchester United fans protest with banners reading ‘MUFC – Our History Wasn’t Yours To Buy, Our Future’s Not Yours To Gamble’.
Unpopular: Supporter groups have taken to wearing green and gold in protest at Glazer ownership. The colours were originally worn by Newton Heath FC, who changed their name to Manchester United in 1902
Fans accused them of using Manchester United purely for financial gain and to remove debt from their US-business interests, adding that they had failed to understand the significance of owning one of the most successful and best supported clubs in the world. The Glazers have always denied this to be the case.
As a result of the anger, from 2009 supporter groups encouraged match-going fans to wear green and gold – the colours of Newton Heath FC – which was the original name for Manchester United.
The protest was seen as a way to remind the Glazers of the long history of the club and to remind them there was more at stake than money.
Green and gold scarves and hats have become a symbol of resistance against the Glazers ever since, and remain a common sight at the club’s 76,000-seater stadium Old Trafford.