Joel Glazer has revealed he is open to part-fan ownership of Manchester United following the protests that marred their game against Liverpool last week.
Thousands of fans descended on Old Trafford, with a number breaking onto the pitch. The team were unable to leave their hotel as supporters gathered outside. The game was eventually postponed, with the match now set to take place next week.
Executive co-chairman Glazer has now written a letter in response to United fans and suggested he wants to speed up talks about the club being part-owned by supporters.
The Athletic understands Glazer is now planning to attend a fans forum, which would, in theory, allow supporters to ask him questions directly rather than through prepared statements.
What has he said?
Glazer wrote: “To highlight some specific points, as one of the few European football clubs listed on the public markets, we believe in the principle of fans owning shares in the club.
“We have previously engaged with the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust on fan share ownership and we want to continue and accelerate those discussions, together with provisions to enhance associated fan consultation.
“We recognise that the Government-initiated, fan-led review of football is a positive opportunity to explore new structures for fan engagement and influence.
“I can assure you that we will willingly and openly engage in the review, with the aim of putting fans at the heart of the game and ensuring their interests are advanced and protected.”
What else did Glazer say?
He reiterated his apology for United’s involvement in the mooted breakaway European Super League, which they pulled out of last month. Glazer added: “Our top priority is, and will always be, competing for the most important trophies, playing entertaining football with a team comprised of top-quality recruits and some of the world’s best homegrown talent. Under Ole, we feel we are absolutely on the right track.
“Success on the field must be underpinned by solid foundations off it. We have supported sustained investment in the team over many years, and that will continue this summer.
“We recognise that we will need to significantly increase investment in Old Trafford and our training complex to ensure that the club’s facilities remain among the best in Europe. As part of this, we will consult with fans on investments related to the stadium and the matchday experience.”
How have United fans responded?
The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust put out a letter on their own website: “The response could in theory – and we emphasise in theory only – be a change in direction and approach by the owners versus their silence and disregard for communication over the last 16 years.
“We will, however, determine our position based on the resulting actions rather than these words alone. We have seen empty words too many times previously. We will seek a mandate from our members and from the wider fanbase before proceeding. We only wish to engage in this process should our supporters want us to.
“The onus remains on the club to put right the problems of the past, not just the European Super League but the overall lack of communication and consultation by the owners.
“Our primary objective remains to ensure a supporter share scheme is put in place which carries equal voting rights to the shares held by the Glazer Family. This scheme would be promoted to the global fanbase and should in turn build a notable stake in the club.
“Through all this, our goals remain the same and as set out in the Open Letter to Joel Glazer. We want a new Manchester United, with a meaningful shareholding for supporters and a meaningful say in key areas. This is our objective, and there will be no let up until we get there.”
What happened on Sunday?
Thousands of United fans descended on the ground to protest the ownership of the Glazer family, with a number breaking onto the pitch to demonstrate ahead of the planned game against Liverpool.
That game, originally scheduled for 4.30pm on Sunday, was postponed.
Why were the fans protesting?
United were one of 12 ‘founding members’ of a breakaway Super League, only to reverse their decision two days later.
On the same day that they pulled out of the tournament, it was announced that executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward would be stepping down from his role.
A large number of United supporters have long wanted the Glazer family to leave their club, but protests have accelerated since the announcement of the proposals.
Glazer “apologised unreservedly for the unrest” caused by the club’s involvement in the failed Super League. However, during an emergency fans forum last Friday, the club’s supporters told Woodward they are “disgusted, embarrassed and angry” by the Super League proposal and rejected Joel Glazer’s apology.
United fans have launched several protests since the announcement of the breakaway league, including breaking into the club’s training ground Carrington, breaking into Old Trafford and forcing the postponement of their Premier League game with Liverpool as well as boycotting club sponsors.
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