Ed Woodward may have paid the price at Manchester United after standing down following European Super League debacle – but despite increased fan hatred of the Glazers, the Red Devils’ profit driven American owners are going nowhere
- Ed Woodward resigned after his role in guiding Manchester United towards ESL
- But United fans will be frustrated if they are hoping for a departure of the Glazers
- The American owners have been hated by fans since taking over in 2005
- But despite the ESL debacle, they are showing no signs of selling the Red Devils
The television crews were back outside Ed Woodward’s house in London on Wednesday. Not in Washington DC or New Orleans, home to Manchester United’s co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer.
As the fallout from the grotesque European Super League rained down on the six English clubs involved, Woodward was the one putting on a tin hat at United, having already announced he will stand down as executive vice-chairman at the end of the year.
Many will argue Woodward deserves the flak. He was a key figure in the failed breakaway league and one of the ‘snakes’ called out by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
Ed Woodward has announced he will step down as executive vice-chairman at Old Trafford
His resignation comes following furious protests over United’s proposed involvement in the now doomed European Super League
But he was not alone in plotting United’s role in the ESL, which would have seen Joel Glazer installed as vice-chairman. The 49-year-old has only ever been a front man for the owners.
News of Woodward’s imminent departure won’t get the Glazers off the hook, though that is unlikely to worry the secretive American billionaires who have never cared much for public opinion.
Not when they were chased out of Old Trafford by angry fans at the height of the £790million takeover in June 2005, hiding in the back of police vans.
Not when the green and gold campaign was launched to force them out in 2010. And not when they continue to face criticism for taking dividends out of the club — £23.2m in the last financial year — while saddling United with a debt of £466m. Profit not popularity is what drives the Glazers.
But Avram (left) and Joel Glazer will continue to lead Untied as the club’s owners
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has called the Glazers ‘scavengers’ who needed ‘booting’ out of Old Trafford
United’s former chief executive David Gill had a green and gold flag draped over the gates of his family home in 2010 by unwanted visitors professing to ‘Love United Hate Glazer’.
Woodward put his Cheshire residence up for sale after fans attacked it in January last year. The incident affected him more than people realise, and the events of the past few days — in particular the activity around the new family home — played a part in his decision to bring forward the announcement that he was stepping down.
Yet the Glazers carry on in splendid isolation thousands of miles away. They never give interviews, we were told by the US media when the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took over United 16 years ago, and the reporters were right. They rarely even speak in public. Joel Glazer’s comments in the ESL statement on Sunday and Wednesday’s public apology were an exception, providing proof that the Glazer fingerprints were all over this plot.
United fans launched a green and gold protest movement in 2010 to try and force a Glazer sale (Pictured: David Beckham with a scarf for the movement while playing for AC Milan at United)
Gary Neville branded them scavengers this week. ‘They need booting out of this football club and they need booting out of this country,’ fumed the former United defender.
Duncan Drasdo of the Manchester United Supporters Trust, which still has Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as one of its patrons, was not surprised by the Glazers’ role in the power grab.
‘We feared this day was coming ever since the takeover,’ said Drasdo. ‘They don’t care about betraying the history of the club or the fans.’
It is unlikely the backlash will make the Glazers consider selling United. When that day comes, they will act from a position of strength, not when the share price has just dropped after one of the most shameful episodes in the club’s history.
United fans have long been unhappy under Glazer ownership since their arrival in 16 years ago
Avram Glazer may have sold a £70m stake last month, reducing the family’s ownership from 78 per cent to 74.9 per cent, but the valuable Class B shares converted to Class A shares after the sale.
Only Class B shares carry voting rights. The Glazers may sell off chunks of United, but they will make damn sure they cling to power. That won’t change.
The ESL may have been consigned to history already but don’t expect the Americans to be gone any time soon.