ESPN spoke to some Manchester United staff members who revealed shocking and jaw-dropping details of just how much the Glazers have been mismanaging the club during their reign.
Since they arrived in 2005, the Glazers have been deeply unpopular figures within the fanbase.
The American family have been accused of fattening their pockets at the expense of the club’s progress and development both on and off the pitch.
Under their vile ownership, United have been overtaken by most of their rivals and are just now playing catchup.
There is now renewed hope that the Red Devils could be on their way back to the top, with Sir Jim Ratcliffe closing in on the ratification of his partial investment by the Premier League.
Only after his deal is ratified will Ratcliffe officially start work at Old Trafford. The signs of what fans can expect under his tenure have already been incredibly positive.
The INEOS billionaire played a crucial part in the appointment of Manchester City’s Omar Berrada as United’s next CEO and Richard Arnold’s successor.
It’s thought that the respective appointments of a sporting director and head of recruitment are the next items on Ratcliffe’s agenda.
Amidst all this, ESPN conducted a deep dive into what life has been like within United during the Glazer rule.
Focus has almost always been on the impact of the Glazers’ negligence on supporters and the team but not much has been said on the effects of the family’s mismanagement on club staff.
One United staffer told ESPN about the parasitic Glazers, “You wouldn’t mind some of the cost-cutting if it wasn’t for the absolute mountain of waste at the top end of the club.”
An issue that was addressed by the newspaper is the pitiful state of United’s iconic home, Old Trafford.
Once hailed as the best stadium in England, the Theatre of Dreams is now a shadow of its former self. ESPN notes that the Glazers have only ever bothered to spend on upgrading the director’s box with plush, heated seats and newly laid carpets.
MUTV, United’s in-house channel has also declined in stature and recognition over the years. When it was newly launched in 1998, it was the envy of many other clubs who took years to emulate the same service and start broadcasting to their respective audiences around the world.
It’s believed that as part of cost-cutting measures implemented by the Glazers, MUTV no longer send their commentators to away games.
Instead, they’re forced to watch away games from the Old Trafford press box and commentate from within an empty stadium while following the proceedings on television.
A United source told ESPN, “It saves MUTV about £40,000 a year in match fees and travel expenses. It’s embarrassing, really. MUTV used to be the envy of all of the big clubs who took years to catch up, but now the moneymen are asking MUTV to watch United play at Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton from a cold and dark Old Trafford press box.”
Old Trafford ground staff have also been experiencing challenges in the discharge of their duties. In addition to delays for key decisions to be made by the top brass, these employees were also subjected to wage cuts.
“It’s been worse since the pandemic. he Glazers have just used that as an excuse to cut costs, but they have really rinsed [squeezed finances from] the club since then.”
“At the start of last season, matchday hosts were told that their fees had been cut by 50 percent. The money they receive now, for 5-6 hours work, is nowhere near the level it should be and that figure is before tax. Some of the matchday staff also work at Manchester City and they say the difference between the two clubs is staggering. City look after them really well, everyone at the club makes an effort to go the extra mile. At United, it’s just a miserable experience.”
Another United source divulged, “There was one occasion when the club wanted to hire some new cleaners to work in the North Stand. The decision on that went right to Joel Glazer. That speaks to the problem at United. The Glazers really do count the cost of everything. Fair enough, they are running a business, but it is so inefficient to have the co-chairman involved in such low-level hiring and firing decisions.”
Another staffer told ESPN that there are “layers and layers” of bureaucracy that cause massive frustrations right across the board.
Mark Ogden explains that he was also told, “All [the Glazers] care about is money and social media engagement figures,” a United source told ESPN. “You’ll have internal meetings with staff trying to get praise for getting so many likes on this or engagements on that.”
It’s understood that the Red Devils had a big idea to introduce Augmented Reality to the club as a way of tapping into a new and relatively unexplored revenue stream.
The technology would have seen players have AR wearables during games. Fans would then be given the opportunity to pay a small fee and experience matches from the perspectives of some of their favourite stars like Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes.
When contacted for comment by ESPN about AR, Ed Woodward confirmed that they did indeed consider venturing into it as it was seen as a very credible business opening.
However, the Glazers and their cronies messed it up, much like they jumbled a repaint of Old Trafford as recounted by another member of staff.
“They tried to smarten up Old Trafford with a paint job a couple of years ago. But they messed it up. They used the wrong shade of red. When Sir Alex was in charge, he would always insist that United played in a darker shade of red than Liverpool. Nike, kit partners at the time, even designed a specific shade for the team’s kit called ‘Diablo Red’. The paint they used for Old Trafford is Liverpool red — it’s too bright for United.”
United staff have also bemoaned some instances in which they were pulled from their primary duties in order to cater to the personal needs of the Glazers and their loved ones.
ESPN had a conversation with a staffer who gave a shocking example. “Jill Glazer, Avram’s wife, is very involved during the summer tours in the U.S. and people are always on edge when she is around. You’ll be at venues and the kids will turn up and all of a sudden, you feel like you’re working for them rather than Manchester United.”
“On one occasion,” the source continued, “somebody got a call at 3 a.m. in New York saying that one of the kids wanted some cupcakes, so this member of staff had to get some. There was also an occasion when somebody was sent for a certain juice from a certain shop at 7 a.m. in Los Angeles.”
There was another situation in which a senior member of staff at United was withdrawn from their obligations to the club and asked to travel to the U.S. a day in advance to make sure the hotels being used by the Glazer family met their standards including the detergents used to clean the hotel bed sheets, were carried out to the letter.
There is hope that with Ratcliffe now in charge of football operations, radical changes are on the horizon.
Even better is that the British businessman’s involvement means the Glazers will fade away into the background – a welcome relief for fans, the team and as it turns out, United staff.