March 5, 2010
Posted: 1811 GMT
As a supporter of what I would (naturally) call the greatest football club in the world I have often asked myself who should own Manchester United. It is - despite all the wrangling, media interest and punditry - a very simple question to answer: each and every loyal supporter who follows the club should “own” Man United for the simple reason that long-term they are the only ones to exclusively have the club's interest at heart.
The much-maligned Glazers are not the absolute epitome of corporate evil that they are often painted to be; but neither are they red devils to the core. The Glazers' are businessmen interested in printing money, and in good times Manchester United can be an ATM; that's why they own the club now. To put the club in so much debt for such an aim is, in my view, unreasonable and a threat to the future of the club.
The Red Knights, a group of high-net worth individuals who wish to ride to Manchester United's aid, are to be lauded for their offer. As an interim solution to the Glazer ownership I would be happy to see them raise cash to buy them out and reduce the debt quicksharp. The fact that they are fans first and investors second is what instantly puts them above the Glazers. But much like Gillett and Hicks at Liverrpool, high-profile investors can fall out, financial plans are behest to the unforseen; friendships forged under the banner of football can easily go the way of John Terry and Wayne Bridge.
Alex Ferguson has always maintained there is no player bigger than the club, using that mantra to justify the sale of Jaap Stam, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. Likewise a football club is also much more than just the sum of its players and its management, it is ultimately supported by its supporters. They are the ones who buy tickets, merchandise, read the advertising and buy their pie and pint at half time. So if there is a viable business model for giving every single fan an investment in their team then that is the underlying answer to football ownership; a way of making the club accountable to those who both fund and care about it most.
Who do you think should own Manchester United? The Glazers, the fans, or the Red Knights?