- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Manchester United, Glazer and fans

After reading John Haydon’s column on Malcolm Glazer’s proposed takeover of Manchester United (“Man U wants no part of Glazer,” Sports, Saturday), I wanted to clear up a few things. The story’s main flaw is that it states that there is anti-American sentiment behind the opposition of fans to the takeover; this couldn’t be more wrong.

Manchester United has a good relationship with fans all over the world: England, China, South Africa, the United States and elsewhere. We also have several American players on our team — Tim Howard, Jonathan Spector and Kenny Cooper.

The reason for the opposition to Malcolm Glazer isn’t because he is an American; it’s because of the type of businessman he is. You have only to look at how he has run the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to see why fans object to him owning the club.

He has raised ticket prices and merchandise prices and has no love for the team. This isn’t what happens in English football. Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea and said he was not interested in making a profit out of the club; he was just a fan of football and wanted to run Chelsea. This is why fans did not object. He is at every Chelsea game and runs the club as others have in the past.



Football clubs over here are rarely run as businesses for profit. They are run for the love of the game, usually by fans with the money to do so. The owner of Liverpool Football Club will, this summer, invest his personal money in the club to buy new players, not to get a return on the investment, but because he is a fan of the club and wants to see the team improve.

If Mr. Glazer were to be successful by his standard, he would install more stadium boxes, replacing hundreds if not thousands of fans’ seats. He would force real fans of the club out to bring in more money and that is not something fans want.

The board could get up to 200 million pounds by letting a company rename the stadium for the next 15 years. The board will not do this, as it would be as wrong to us as renaming the Statue of Liberty the FedEx Statue would be to you. If Mr. Glazer gains control of the club, he will definitely do this.

It might not make sense that we should care about the name of the stadium as much as we do, but we do. Maybe cultural differences make us feel differently about these issues, but for us, having the club run the way Mr. Glazer wants to run it would take the heart and soul out of the club. And that’s the most important part of any club here.

Having real fans attend games, instead of CEOs in corporate boxes; having an owner who cares about the club and the fans; and maintaining the history and the traditions of the club are more important to most fans than winning a trophy.

It would be a shame if your readers felt that there was an anti-American sentiment at the club or among its fans. This is definitely not the case. The club has done two tours of America in the past few years — highly successful ones — that all have enjoyed, and European fans on holiday following the club had a great time with the American fans both times.

STEPHEN MCGLYNN

Dublin

I object to John Haydon’s recent column on Malcolm Glazer’s attempted hostile takeover of Manchester United. The main objection, of which we fans have several, is financial. In short, unlike Roman Abramovich, Mr. Glazer does not have $1.5 billion lying around.

His proposal would require heavily leveraging the club’s assets to pay off his large borrowing. In essence, he’s asking the club’s supporters to pay for him to own the club. Why on earth should the team agree to this?

Manchester United is already the richest club in the world, recently named so for the eighth consecutive year by Deloitte, with no debt and a strong cash flow. Mr. Glazer’s proposal would plunge the club into massive debt, somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 million to 500 million pounds, which he can pay back only by exploiting the club’s assets, such as selling Old Trafford, the club’s stadium, and raising ticket prices.

In short, Mr. Glazer’s proposal adds nothing of value to the club and in fact dangerously harms its long-term prospects.

The most disturbing thing for United supporters is Mr. Glazer’s ignorance of our history and traditions. His latest proposal was made Feb. 6, the anniversary of the Munich air disaster. For Mr. Glazer to launch a bid on that most tragic of days in Manchester United history exposed him to the great majority of United’s supporters as a someone interested mainly in money — our money.

To characterize Mr. Glazer as benign because he “looks like a friendly leprechaun” is absurd. No one in his right mind thinks this is a good deal for anyone except Malcolm Glazer.

BEN KAVANAUGH

Huntsville, Ala.

Gratitude to the troops

I fully agree that persecution of 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano is shameful as stated in Mel Morganstein’s letter “Shameful day for the corps” (Sunday). However, I think Mr. Morganstein was wrong to bring down the Army and Navy to make that point.

I would like to remind him that those serving in the Army and Navy are willing to make the same ultimate sacrifice for their country as those serving in the Marines. My dad, now a 91-year-old living in Florida, was drafted into the Army as an infantryman at 29 to serve in World War II.

He was married with an 8-month-old baby and could have gotten a deferment — at the time, he was working at a shipyard in New York City in a vital job aiding the war effort. Instead, he served in Italy for three years fighting back the Germans, walking from Anzio to the Austrian border and returning home after the war ended.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank and praise my father and all of our men and women in uniform for giving their all so we can enjoy our freedom here. God bless you.

LORRAINE RYAN

Berwyn Heights

The late gonzo journalist

Hunter S. Thompson has fatally shot himself, as the grand finale of his life’s work, “Fear and Self-Loathing in Aspen, and Everywhere Else” (“End of story for Hunter Thompson, Page 1, Tuesday).

He was a pioneer in “gonzo” journalism, which was highly subjective, nuanced, entertaining and put the “journalist” at the center of the story, rather than at the periphery as an observer-recorder.

Mr. Thompson’s legacy was great, in the sense of large, for he was an inspiration to hundreds of “journalists” to follow, who thought themselves more important than the stories or, indeed, even the truth. He and they unwittingly revealed that, truly, ugly is in the eye of the beholder.

The trend continued into the new millennium, when technology provided thousands of young and old people with an old-fashioned respect for the truth and an opportunity to see alternatives and call gonzo for the bias and misrepresentation it is.

In a few months, a number of high-profile journalism practitioners have disgraced themselves and their well-known organizations and given a boost to the amateurs, many of whom seek the truth above all. Commencement speakers have urged us to seek truth, and some of us have taken it seriously ever since.

As he was iconic in life, in or out of touch with sober reality, so may Mr. Thompson be iconic in death. It is time to promulgate the truth, wherever it leads, so that voters can cast their lots for people who will govern according to our founding principles.

As for Mr. Thompson, his exit was as disturbed as his life.

ROBERT A. GISMONDI

Reseda, Calif.

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