The co-chairman of Manchester United faced fans for the first time in his family’s 16-year ownership of the club to address concerns on investment on and off the pitch
Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer insisted there will be investment in the club’s first-team squad this summer after attending a fans’ forum meeting.
The Glazer family family controversially bought the club in 2005 amid a backdrop of huge fan protests and the ownership have proven hugely unpopular with the United supporters in the years since.
A significant part of that has been their lack of interaction with the club’s fanbase and that changed with the co-chairman’s first ever appearance at a meeting of the fans forum, which was to turn fiery when a fan accused the owners of being responsible for the club becoming a ‘laughing stock’.
The decision from the ownership to appear came in the immediate aftermath of fresh waves of protests over the Glazer family’s participation in the so-called European Super League in April.
United were one of 12 founding member clubs, with the Glazers and the club’s CEO Ed Woodward reported to be among the proposal’s biggest proponents.
Among the fans’ main gripes were the lack of investment in the club’s facilities including their home stadium, alongside an aloof club ownership who do not engage with them and who have overseen a prolonged slump in expectations both on and off the pitch.
Glazer addressed concerns on the club’s investment in the transfer market this summer at the forum: “We will absolutely do our best to make things happen as quick as possible.
“But in modern football, a lot of money is involved; the other side can try to take advantage of us.
“We have to try to make sure there’s a balance; that we don’t put ourselves in a bad position for the next deal we do.
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“So we’re working hard behind the scenes. We feel optimistic about this summer, and recognise the importance of this close season.”
However, Chas Banks, 71, secretary of the Manchester United Disabled Supporters’ Association, told Glazer that the club has become a ‘laughing stock’ and is no longer seen as setting the standard in English football.
Banks highlighted the ownership taking out dividends from the club and share sales, whilst overseeing a malaise in standards with lack of investment on and off the pitch.
The minutes of the meeting quote Banks as saying: “We used to be the club that others measured themselves by – on the field and off the field.
“And the problem is now, people are laughing at us, Joel. We’ve become a laughing stock. There are memes on the internet all the time. And there’s nothing worse. People say bad things about you, but there’s nothing worse than being laughed at.”
Glazer also addressed criticism from former United player and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, but he insists that the former full back will be listened to.
Glazer added: “Gary has been pretty hard on us. It’s OK. Everybody has their views.
“You can just shut the person out because they are not saying something nice about you. Or you can pause and listen.
“You can’t ignore people. Gary’s a legend. He has good ideas, good thoughts. And they’re heard.”