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red rage $100m share sale set by United owners leaves sour taste in the mouths of fans

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Manchester United co-chairman Avram Glazer

Manchester United co-chairman Avram Glazer

Manchester United co-chairman Avram Glazer

Nothing should really surprise you any more where the Glazer family and their personal cash cow, Manchester United, are concerned

And yet, even by the standards of these habitually tone-deaf owners, the announcement on Thursday night that co-chairman Avram Glazer is looking to sell five million of his shares in the club which, if successful, could net him a windfall in the region of $100m, will have left a particularly sour taste in the mouths of fans. United’s finances have been severely hit by the coronavirus crisis, with turnover falling by almost a fifth last season, the threat to jobs will grow if the situation does not ease and fans hoping for a heavy splurge in the transfer market this summer to plug the team’s continuing shortcomings are likely to be disappointed.

Now we learn Avram Glazer has his sights set on an estimated £72m windfall, based on the club’s current share price and, while this is not money the club would have to fork out, it is still the latest example of the Americans benefitting financially from a club onto which they have loaded enormous debts. In the 16 years since the takeover, United have spent far north of £1bn in interest, repayment fees, dividends and other costs associated with the Glazers’ ownership structure.

United’s current gross debt stands at £536m, the highest level since 2010, and all the while Old Trafford goes without the makeover it urgently requires and the team drift along in the rearview mirror of successive Premier League champions.

United confirmed in a statement that the club would “not receive any proceeds” from a share sale. Meanwhile, any fans getting excited about the prospect of reduced Glazer control should remember that the Class A shares Avram wants to sell hold just one tenth of the voting rights of the Class B shares the Americans own almost entirely. So, while the Glazers’ ownership stake stands to reduce from 78pc to 74.9pc, they will still retain the complete running of the club

Avram Glazer is entitled to sell shares if he so wishes. But football clubs are not ordinary businesses. They are rooted in their communities and carry huge emotional significance for their followers. The actions and behaviour of owners need to recognise that, all the more so at such a precarious time for society.

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