Manchester United and their fans have always had a love-hate relationship with their owner, American Business Tycoons, The Glazers. Mishandling of funds, non-payment of debts, no activity in the transfer market, mismanagement in the football team board and much more.
Manchester United was formed as Newton Heath LYR Football Club but the club split from the railway company in 1892 and was part of private ownership for close to 100 years before going public in 1990. It was then subject to takeover bids from BskyB corporation owned by Michael Knighton and Rupert Murdoch.
Malcolm Glazer started the acquisition in 2003 and by the end of 2003, Glazer had increased his shareholding from 3% to around 15% before doubling it in 2004. By May 2005 he had taken over 57% of the shares and in a few days, he had control over 75% of the club’s shares, which allowed him to delist the company from the NYSE. Within a month, he had control of 98% of the shares and that allowed him to force squeeze out the remaining 2%.
Most of his capital came from loans and he put the loans against Manchester United’s assets. Some Manchester United fans were so disgruntled with the takeover because of the number of debts the club would have to bear. This was the first time Manchester United was in debt since James Gibson saved them in 1931. The debt taken on by the Glazers to finance the takeover was shared between the club and the family; between £265 million and £275 million was secured against United's assets. This led to a point that a historical thing happened. A football club, F.C. United of Manchester was formed by angry fans who didn’t support the take-over in 2005, which plays in the 6th tier of English football, ever since. It was also a matter of fear of many fans that whether David Gill and Sir Alex Ferguson would face the axe or not but The Glazers took action to make sure that both of them stayed at the club.
Just after the takeover, a fan campaign, known as "Love United Hate Glazer" was formed. Five years into taking over the club, in 2010 Manchester United’s debt announcements sparked protests among fans and after some days it was reported that Manchester United’s supporter clubs had met with some wealthy fans, for a financial takeover. Dubbed locally, ‘The Red Knights’ were engaged in the possibility of a billion-pound takeover, but the Glazers had a price of their own and the asking price matched 1.6 billion pounds. The Red Knights didn’t want to pay an unfair valuation of the club and hence the deal fell through. Mainly, Glazers were really bad with financing or maintaining the books that in 2010 it was announced that Red Football’s debt had increased to £716.5 million. In that year, it was also revealed that the Glazers had to pay off the remaining £220 million debt within the PIK loans by 22 November 2010. The loans were by then counting interest at a rate of 16.25%, as the club's total debt had exceeded its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization by more than five times. Still, the club claimed that none of the club’s money had been used to for its repayment bringing questions as to how Glazer’s were managing their businesses. Still, it is reported that Manchester United's current debt stands at £496m which was £540m, 14 years back. In interest alone, Manchester United have spent £768m for keeping the debt alive that The Glazers put on United’s head.
Since 2011, Glazers have listed a part of the shares in the NYSE and in International markets for bringing in investments from the Asian fronts, namely Singapore or Hong Kong. Even after it was listed on the Singapore Exchange there were no such developments. As of now, close to 9% of the shares are owned by Baron Capitals from the USA.