Manchester United fans will soon get a chance to own a stake in the World’s most prominent football club through a Fans Share scheme and can also have a new channel for a board-level dialogue with the club via a Fans Advisory Board.
The club on Monday announced that it is in discussion with the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) about the proposed schemes. The share scheme and advisory board were proposed by Joel Glazer, Manchester United co-chairman, in a meeting with the club’s Fans Forum last June, when he expressed hope that they would “reset the relationship with our supporters [and] strengthen the club as a whole”.
The Fans Share Scheme will open a path for supporters to build an ownership stake in the club.
On Monday, the club gave its fans an update on the progress towards implementing the two schemes.
“We are in advanced talks with MUST about a Fans’ Share Scheme which would open a path for fans to build, over time, a meaningful ownership stake in Manchester United.
“This would give fans a strong collective voice within our ownership structure and help cement a new spirit of a long-term partnership between fans and the club,” Manchester United said in a statement.
“There are significant legal and regulatory complexities being worked through, together with MUST and expert advisers.
“As well as making progress on the Fans’ Share Scheme, we are also creating a Fans’ Advisory Board as a new channel for board-level dialogue with supporters and this is close to launch,” the statement said.
Manchester United, the most successful club in the Premier League history, is owned by the Glazer Family of the United States which bought a controlling stake in the club in May 2005 and took it off the stock exchange.
The funding for the highly leveraged takeover, which valued the club at approximately £800 million (then approx. $1.5 billion), was borrowed by the Glazers; the debts were transferred to the club. As a result, the club went from being debt-free to being saddled with debts of £540 million, at interest rates of between 7% to 20% and this made the Glazers quite unpopular among the die-hard fans.