Manchester United fan group MUST have admitted they are remaining ‘cautious’ about the Glazer’s recent proposals, despite being in discussions with the club regarding a fan share scheme.
While the Red Devils’ owners have never been popular figures among supporters after their controversial leveraged takeover of the club back in 2005, they have been under even more scrutiny of late, following the club’s leading role in the European Super League debacle.
That attempted breakaway was swiftly shelved after an intense fan backlash, though United supporters have continued to let their frustrations be heard, with large-scale protests at Old Trafford ultimately seeing their clash with Liverpool last month postponed.
Fans have also been boycotting some of the club’s key sponsors, leading to United missing out on a multi-million-pound sponsorship deal for their new training kit, in an attempt to put pressure on the owners to sell.
Amid anger over a lack of interaction between the Glazer family and supporters over the past 16 years, co-owner Joel Glazer spoke to fans at a recent fans forum, outlining his plans to improve ‘dialogue and consulation’ with supporters.
In a statement released by the club on Friday, the Glazers pledged to provide long-overdue investment to the club’s Old Trafford stadium, as well as to create a ‘Fan Advisory Board’ in order to ‘consult with the club’s senior leadership and owners’, the board set to be ‘made up of representatives from the Forum and key fan groups to ensure the fans’ perspective is embedded within the club’s decision-making processes’.
As part of the recent protests, United fans called for the introduction of the 50+1 ownership scheme as seen in German football, in order to give fans a controlling share of their beloved club. Mr Glazer announced that the club are in discussions with the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) over proposals to create a Fan Share Scheme, creating ‘a new class of shares which will each carry the same voting rights as the shares owned by the Glazer family’.
However, despite being in contact with the club, MUST expressed their caution about what levels of control the Glazer family might be willing to relinquish, with the fan group concerned that the owners may try to ‘limit the number of such Fan Shares made available’.
First words of lengthy @ManUtd statement come from Joel Glazer: "Our goal is to win every competition we compete in, and we will continue to invest in our academy and in the transfer market to support the manager in an effort to meet the club’s goals."
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) June 4, 2021
The statement reads: “In a first ever meeting between Joel Glazer and the Manchester United Fans’ Forum – in which there was a frank exchange of views – it was revealed that Manchester United is in talks with MUST about a potentially revolutionary new Fan Share Scheme which, if it goes ahead, would allow fans to buy shares in Manchester United with the same super-voting rights as those previously held exclusively by the Glazer Family.
“Joel Glazer was held to account on a series of issues including debt, dividend payments, tickets prices, lack of investment in the stadium and lack of engagement with supporters for 16 years.
“MUST is cautious about whether this Fan Share Scheme will meet their own tests before they give it approval as despite the huge concession on voting rights that this proposal signals as ever the devil is always in the detail.
“In particular, despite Joel Glazers’ assertion that this will be “the largest fan ownership group in world sport”, MUST is concerned that there is a risk that the scheme will limit the number of such Fan Shares made available so reducing the opportunity for this to achieve a meaningful collective fan ownership stake – and ultimately with the potential to result in a change in control of the club.
“For that reason – MUST is today signalling their intention to recruit the millions of members of Manchester United’s huge global fanbase to unite behind their campaign and sign up to their pre-launch “Sign For United” campaign site at www.SignForUnited.org so they can be part of the campaign when it launches in the next 10 days.
“The aim of the campaign is to demonstrate the huge appetite amongst United support for a better model of ownership which embraces the fans at its heart and in so doing compel the club to deliver a really revolutionary Fan Share Scheme which will both excite the fans and also exceed their demand for shares.“