More than 50 Manchester United supporters’ groups have come together to list their demands for any potential buyer of the club.
The Glazer family, who bought United in 2005, recently confirmed that they intend to consider their options when it comes to the club and 90 Minutes understand that a full sale would be their preferred outcome.
In an open letter led by the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust, a number of fan groups have come together to warn potential buyers of what to expect.
“To any bidder for Manchester United Football Club: We, the undersigned, represent Manchester United fans from all backgrounds and walks of life,” the letter began.
“We fully understand why you want to buy the club. Manchester United is the biggest sporting organization in the world and we hope to have a new owner who will nurture it, invest and all. More than would recognize that their role as Manchester United stewards is to run the club in partnership with the supporters, recognizing that the football club is much more than just a commercial asset.
“When you consider the nature of any offer you want to make to existing owners, we think it can be helpful to understand what supporters want from any new owner, so that Be supported by fans. The principles below are based on our long-standing principles established over two decades as a Supporters Trust and regular open consultation with our fans. Along with the publication of this open letter, we have globally A more comprehensive consultation process has been initiated to reach out to fan groups and supporters.”
Debt, equity, investment and profit
1. The current owners took Manchester United from being a debt-free club to one of the most indebted football clubs in the world. That debt has never been paid and hangs around our neck like a millstone. Any successful bid must not be debt-based and must include a commitment to replace existing debt and fund future capital expenditures through new share issues.
2. Football clubs are different from normal businesses. Owners of football clubs, like all other supporters, should give to their club and not to their own profit. The current owners have raked in crores of rupees over a long period of time, while the club is failing. There should be no reward for failure, and the first priority for profitability should always be reinvestment in the club.
3. Manchester United urgently need new investment – to modernize both the stadium and the training ground, as well as long-term guarantees on spending available on men’s team, women’s team and youth set-up players. We want to hear your plan to invest substantial funds in the playing side of the club as well as infrastructure like stadiums.
4. Joint ownership with fans as partners. Unlike the current dual class share structure there should be one class of shares with equal voting rights for all shareholders. The club must raise funds through regular share issues for fans, replacing debt with equity at every opportunity and increasing the collective stake of smaller fan shareholders.
5. If you do not intend to list Manchester United as a public company in the UK, we expect you to still adhere to the same level of corporate governance, reporting and transparency.
6. Formal company governance should be complemented by structures to ensure that the voice of fans is heard at the highest level. The existing club structures of the Fans Advisory Board and the Fans Forum should be expanded to increase independent representation. The interests of the fans should also be represented in the main board of the company as well as the composition of the said board with adequate independent directors.
The spirit of the sports organization
7. Heritage issues including the club’s colours, name, venue and stadium are matters of major concern to supporters. Any consideration of changing them requires the express consent of the fans.
8. The words “Football Club” should be restored to the shirt badge.
9. Manchester United should continue to develop, support and promote a women’s team, which should be considered an important part of the club’s future.
10. The youth development and academy system must continue to be an integral part of the identity of Manchester United and the playing squad.
11. The club must undertake that it will never again attempt to compete in any competition such as the European Super League, and that any proposal to change the competitions entered into by the club will be strictly rejected by the fans. Consent will be required.
12. A clear plan is essential to maintain the affordability of match tickets for the general public, including the next generation of fans, including freezing the current ticket price and prioritizing the development of other revenue streams.
Any prospective purchaser should be urged to contact Supporters Groups prior to lodging any formal offer.
“The above requirements are proposed in the best interests of the club and fans, and no good owner should make them excessive or unduly demanding,” the letter continued.
“At this stage, we request any potential bidder to engage in discussions with the fans. We believe that doing so will help them come up with the best offer and the best plan possible. The parties must understand their intentions. and expand on the principles outlined above.”