EPL

Glazer vows to explore possibility of fan shares in Man Utd, promises more open dialogue

By Sports Desk May 07, 2021

Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer has promised to discuss the issue of fans owning shares in the Red Devils and acknowledged disgruntled supporters' calls for change after a week of turmoil at the club.

Glazer provided a written response on United's official website to a letter from a fans' forum, which had demanded increased consultation with supporters in the aftermath of the decision to sign up for the doomed European Super League.

It marks the first statement from Glazer since supporters protested against the owners prior to Sunday's scheduled Premier League fixture with Liverpool. A group of fans, who are still banned from attending matches due to the coronavirus pandemic, broke into Old Trafford and invaded the pitch, while hundreds of others gathered at the Lowry Hotel to stop the team leaving to play the game, which was postponed and rescheduled for Thursday.

A four-point plan put to Glazer asked for a fan share scheme giving supporters voting rights, support for a fan-led government review, the appointment of independent directors to the board, and regular consultation with season ticket holders on major decisions.

In response, Glazer wrote: "As one of the few European football clubs listed on the public markets, we believe in the principle of fans owning shares in the club. 

"We have previously engaged with the Manchester United Supporters' Trust on fan share ownership and we want to continue and accelerate those discussions, together with provisions to enhance associated fan consultation.

"In particular, I want to acknowledge the need for change, with deeper consultation with you [fans forum] as our main fan representative body across a range of important issues, including the competitions we play in. 

"We also recognise the importance of fan and football interests being embedded in key decision-making processes at every level of the club, and we are open to constructive discussions on how to reinforce that principle."

Glazer said he will "willingly and openly" engage with the government's fan-led review into football and described it as "a positive opportunity to explore new structures for fan engagement and influence".

He also once again apologised "for the mistakes that were made" in relation to United's involvement in the proposed breakaway Super League, which received huge backlash due to the closed-shop nature of the competition.

"I want to acknowledge the need for change, with deeper consultation with you as our main fan representative body across a range of important issues, including the competitions we play in," he added. 

"We also recognise the importance of fan and football interests being embedded in key decision-making processes at every level of the club, and we are open to constructive discussions on how to reinforce that principle.

"We remain committed to working with the wider football community to make the game stronger and more sustainable over the long-term, and we will now refocus our efforts on doing this within the existing structures of UEFA and the Premier League."

Speaking prior to the second leg of United's Europa League semi-final against Roma this week, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said fans must be allowed to protest peacefully but felt last Sunday's actions went "too far".

"It was a difficult day for us," Solskjaer said.

"Of course we wanted to play and beat Liverpool, for the fans, even. Our job has to be getting good results on the pitch, that's the players' focus, my focus, but as I said before the game, we have to listen, hear the fans' voices, it's everyone's right to protest.

"But it has to be in a peaceful manner. Unfortunately, when you break in, when police get injured, scarred for life, that's one step too far, and when it gets out of hand like this, it's a police matter, it's not about opinions anymore."

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