Date: 25th February 2011 at 3:00pm
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Would you welcome Qatari ownership at Old Trafford?

Would you welcome Qatari ownership at Old Trafford?

Like all the best rumours surrounding the world’s most popular football club, the Qatar takeover of Manchester United one, shows no signs of abating.

The figure that seems to be the most prevalent one in the national press is that of £1.5 billion- is it me or are we actually into Austin Powers-territory with these amounts? You can almost imagine Malcolm Glazer stroking a white cat with his little finger to his mouth, saying to his sons: “I want one and a half BILLION pounds!”

While the idea of the Glazer’s walking away from our club with a massive profit, having used it as their own private bank for loans, etc, seems detestable many fans would no doubt welcome them selling.

After all they’ve never been exactly endeared by the Old Trafford faithful and although the Glazer’s Out Campaign seems to have stagnated somewhat over the past year or so, there’ still enough vociferous protesters to ensure that the crusade to end the American ownership- like the club itself- ‘will never die.’

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to the Glazers- the orthodox- or populist if you will- and the revisionist.

The orthodox school of thought is that the Glazers are bad for Manchester United, they they’re merely bleeding the club dry for their own financial gain and they should be ousted at the first given opportunity.

There are many practitioners of the orthodox view which has given birth to F.C United of Manchester, The Red Knights and most famously the Green and Gold Campaign.

My own view on all of these actions is that despite their good intentions all three of them are flawed in terms of ousting our American owners. I’m not saying I don’t see the point or agree with the principles that started them, I just couldn’t envisage any of them quite being strong enough to force the Glazers to sell their cash cow.

The birth of F.C United was a triumph of sorts as it showed both the Glazers and the media just how serious some fans were about wanting to get rid of the new owners. The main problem being that, like myself admittedly, not everyone was willing to stop attending matches of the club they love and despite the success of F.C it never quite looked like being enough to get rid of the Glazers. I am aware that wasn’t the sole purpose of creating the new club, it was also a way for those who refused to put money in the Glazer’s pockets to carry on supporting a club linked irrevocably to Manchester United. To that end F.C United was a success, with the sort of crowds you’d associate with a League Two or a smaller League One club.

The Red Knights was a campaign I was sceptical of from the start as the idea of around 20 businessmen all investing many millions of pounds each to try and buy United out of ‘love’ for the club seemed doomed to failure.

Not only did I have my doubts as to whether the Red Knights would be able to get enough money to buy out the Glazers but also could they all agree on the best course of action when it came to the running of Manchester United? Then there was the most important question: were they really all in it for love not money?

The Red Knight ‘saga’ as that is quickly what it became seems to have fizzled out somewhat of late and whether it’s ever resurrected is doubtful to say the least.

The final effort by the anti-Glazer brigade was the Green and Gold Campaign which saw tens of thousands of United fans shunning the club’s official merchandise in favour of independent green and gold scarves.

This idea appealed to me as unlike boycotting matches it wouldn’t have a detrimental effect on the team’s performance as the last thing I’d want to see is United falter due to a lack of support.

The problem was the Glazers seemed more than able to ride any financial storm that the Green and Gold campaign may have caused. The nadir of this drive was the possibility that the club were actually going to cash in on the popularity of it by releasing a green and gold shirt.

The revisionist theory which I’m almost scared to repeat such is the venom that some United fans have against it, is that the Glazers damage to the club is somewhat exaggerated, that despite the loans, debt and bad press, they’ve not actually harmed us that badly.

The main evidence of this argument is the team’s performances, which since the Glazers took over in 2005, the team has enjoyed a successful period with three league titles, a champion’s league, not to mention, various trips to Wembley and another CL final.

There’s also the money that’s been spent on players, up until last season, where the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo and the purchase of Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen and Gabriel Obertan meant the club had received far more than it had spent in transfer fees, the Glazers had seemingly been willing to spend.

The idea that the Glazers have backed Sir Alex in the transfer market, is born mainly from the 2007-08 season, where after winning the league the previous season, they were willing to spend £30 million on Nani and Anderson, a further £16 million on Owen Hargreaves and anything from £20 to £25 million depending on who believe on the loan signing of Carlos Tevez.

There was also the subsequent signing of Dimitar Berbatov for over £30 million which went some way to placating some if not all of the fans.

There’ also been the backing of Sir Alex Ferguson who’s always been totally supportive of the Glazers and claimed they’re good owners who’ve always given him the financial assistance he needs in the transfer market.

There is a third post-revisionist theory in all of this, that the Glazers are arguably money grabbing, greedy charlatans with no love of United, but they are willing to spend when needs be as they recognise that a successful team leads to more profit for them- or less debt.

The Qatar bid is supposedly less based on financial gain, after all investing £1.5 billion in a club seemingly saddled with debt is hardly going to bring about immediate profit, and based more on the idea of gaining both credibility and even popularity in footballing circles.

With the successful world cup bid and the ground-breaking deal with Barcelona, it seems that all of a sudden the once unheard of Qatar royal family are now becoming the most talked about football family since Neville Neville’s lads lined up together for England.

The Qatari Royal family have a seemingly bottomless pit of cash and would no doubt be willing to bankroll any transfer whim Sir Alex thought of. With United still having the highest turnover of any club the new regulations coming in next season shouldn’t stop the club spending big if it wished to do so.

The general feeling is that the Qatari’s want to be popular- almost the antithesis of the Glazers who were concerned with profit margins not Christmas card lists. Like the owners of the ‘noisy neighbours’ the Qatari’s aren’t bothered about spending vast sums of money as long as they look good in the media and the fans love them.

This all sounds ideal for United, especially after the turbulent past six years we’ve seen at Old Trafford with many fans suddenly becoming well versed in the complex machinations of financial football dealings.

Should the Glazers decide to sell it will end the most despised ownership in the club’s long history. The question is does ‘better the devil you know?’ apply.

The Qatar family seemed determined to add the world’s greatest club to the growing list of football acquisitions they’ve made. It seems like a good deal for everyone involved, the Glazers make a huge profit, the club could actually be debt-free and the fans get rid of their hated nemesis.

The question is will the club truly be better off? The Qatari’s want to be popular, so would you welcome them at United?

Please comment below and let us know your thoughts.

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7 responses to “Would Qatari Ownership Of United Be Popular?”

  1. bruce thomas says:

    I’m inclining to the view that all the talk about the Qatari’s is Glazer bullshit designed to hype up their junk bonds.

    However, if the Glazers remain, they will continue funding themselves at the team’s expense.

    Scholes is already being pressurised into staying on. Cleverly and Welbeck’s return and Carrick getting an extension, will be presented as all the squad strengthening needed.

    SAF’s “success” in papering over the squad’s cracks has been counter-productive, and Green & Gold has died a death while everyone fantasizes about what we might win.

    If we don’t win anything much, then people might actually see the cracks for what they are — a once-thrilling team reduced to holding on for grim 0-0 and 1-0s, reliant on others’ inadequacies rather than its own strengths.

  2. Aman says:

    AsI agree with your summary…I think David Gill has also been a great chairman since he took over Peter Kenyon (saying that anyone could’ve been better than Kenyon). what annoys me is when ‘fans’ say Gill should go etc…if Gill said the Glazers are bad etc then he’d get sacked as he’s in a job and there would be a billion ‘yes men’ willing to apply for the Chairmans job and sit there being glazer media friendly! Just look at Garry Cooke…he’s made himself look like the biggest mug in the world on countless occasions!

  3. John Casson says:

    @bruce thomas, I think you misunderstand. The Glazers want the bond price to drop, not rise. The club are buying back the bonds and have been doing for months. They’ve been paying on average about 96p in the pound. Good business. It seems that it’s MUST and the Red Knights who have forced the bond prices up with all of this talk of Qatar. The sooner the Qatar nonsense stops the sooner the bond prices drop and the sooner the club buy back it’s debt.

  4. Truth says:

    It would be less popular than City’s arab owners. Football fans dont want to see the Manchester Derby becoming merely a grudge match between two arab families.

  5. Jacob says:

    So the Qataris aren’t doing it for financial gain? Give me a break. They’re basically going to use United as a pawn in their rivalry with the Sheikh of Man City. How is that loving your club?

    Glazers have supported the signing of those big money players that you have mentioned. Fans just love to have something to bitch about. Suddenly, the business side of things bothers them when the team is winning games and top of the league. And by the way, it’s just business. It’s nothing personal. That’s the meaning of a business in itself ain’t it not?