Joel Glazer has discussed his ambitious plans for Manchester United’s future after meeting with the club’s supporters.
The club’s executive co-chairman made the unprecedented step of appearing on a fans forum.
Never in his ownership had he done so but he is now looking to build bridges with the United fans in the wake of the failed Super League plans.
The Glazers faced calls to sell up last month as fans protested outside Old Trafford, with some even making their way onto the pitch.
Relations between them have long been sour, but there is an acceptance now from Glazer that things have to change.
United have not threatened to win the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013.
In the eight years since they have just five pieces of silverware to show and recently lost the Europa League final.
Now though Glazer has reaffirmed his commitment to the club and we take a look at five key takeaways from his meeting.
Fans to have a say
Plans to give fans a greater say by purchasing shares in the club are underway.
Glazer spoke of a Fan Share Scheme which would allow fans to purchase a stake in the club.
Even more significant is that each share would carry the same voting rights as those owned by the Glazer family.
Of course the Glazers own a majority share in the club so their voice is always likely to carry the greatest degree of weight, nevertheless such involvement certainly represents change in a big way.
A Fan Advisory Board is also set to be created which will allow for consultation between the fans the club’s senior figures.
Fan representation will come from those involved in the Forum and key fan groups such as MUST.
Improved infrastructure plans
Glazer announced that more money will be pumped into both Old Trafford and Carrington.
Gary Neville recently accused the United owners of allowing their 76,000-seater stadium to rot.
They were keen to point out in a statement that a nine-figure sum has been spent on Old Trafford renovations over the past decade, but have underlined their commitment to invest further.
He said: “Old Trafford is at the heart of Manchester United and while we have spent over £100m over the last 10 years on infrastructure projects, we will now accelerate the process of planning much more significant investment and upgrades to the stadium…rest assured, we will consult with supporters throughout the process to end up with a result we can all be proud of.
“The same goes for our training ground.”
On the same page
The divide between United fans and the Glazers is nothing new, it dates back years.
But the recent Super League plans created the greatest chasm we’ve seen during their ownership.
Despite that though the Glazers insist their desires are aligned with the fans.
They said: “As owners, we want exactly the same thing as the fans – a successful team and a strong club – and we want to work in partnership to achieve those objectives.”
Proud of spending
United’s transfer market activity is something of a double-edged sword.
Jose Mourinho and now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have both been allowed to spend huge amounts, smashing records by signing the likes of Paul Pogba and Harry Maguire.
Poor investment though has regularly seen the club criticised, but ultimately the owners’ job is to make the funds available.
Spending it wisely is the remit of the manager and Ed Woodward. Glazer spoke of their pride at investing so heavily in the squad, even if it hasn’t paid dividends.
“The commercial growth at the club has helped deliver the revenue which ultimately underpins that investment in a sustainable manner,” he said.
“That approach has allowed us to have among the highest net transfer spend in world football over the last 5 years and have one of the highest wage bills.
Committed to youth
It is easy to perceive the Glazers as rich American businessman who wanted to own a football club irrespective of its traditions or values.
Their actions haven’t exactly debunked that theory, but they have spoken fondly of their investment in youth – something that has long underpinned United’s success.
The Glazers have put the pieces in place to ensure the Red Devils are well set in years to come.
They said: “As a club we have devoted a lot of time and resources over the last several years updating and further developing our vast global scouting network to adapt to the modern football environment.
“This is a project that should provide a foundation for long-term success in the years to come.”