The inside story of the Glazers role at Man United told in new book

EXCLUSIVE Sir Alex Ferguson’s private JOKE that allowed the Glazers to seize control, the mistake fans can’t forgive them for… and why Sir Jim Ratcliffe isn’t the answer: The incredible story of Man United’s decline laid bare in new book

  • Man United supporters have endured 18 years of decline under the Glazer family
  • A new book, The World’s Biggest Cash Machine, delves into their time as owners
  • Manchester United fans must be DREADING Anfield trip – It’s All Kicking Off 

It is now 18 years that the fans of Manchester United have had to put up with the Glazers as owners. Almost two decades of decline and decay of their club. Almost two decades of protests and vitriol.

The American family have saddled the club with debt, lined their own pockets in the process and overseen one of the most lamentable chapters in the club’s history as their slide from the pantheon of European heavyweights continues to gather pace.

It is anything but amusing to those who fill Old Trafford week in, week out. Funny then, that their reign should have come about courtesy of a private joke between Sir Alex Ferguson and shareholders John Magnier and JP McManus.

That is just one of the jaw-dropping revelations in a new book detailing the Glazers and their time in charge of United. The World’s Largest Cash Machine has been written by Chris Blackhurst, a former journalist who has picked through the details of the last 20 years and beyond to understand just how one of the world’s biggest brands ended up in the hands of a little-known family based in Florida.

The book explains how, after initial push back from the lofty world of horse racing, Ferguson and his companions concocted an elaborate ruse to allow the then-United manager to speak at an owners’ function.

A new book has detailed how the Glazers came to power at Manchester United 18 years ago

Sir Alex Ferguson won his last title under the Glazers, and unwittingly helped them seize power

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That plan included putting Sir Alex down as the owner of Rock of Gibraltar, the legendary horse whose success would eventually lead to an irreparable dispute between the Scotsman and his Irish acquaintances.

It was this dispute that created the perfect storm, allowing the Glazers to swoop in and seize control at United.

‘The Glazers kind of essentially took advantage of a moment in time,’ says Blackhurst. ‘The story of how they actually got the shares is an incredible story.

‘The more I looked into it, the more incredible it became, you know, what started as a really a joke.

‘In order to do the after-dinner speech, [Ferguson] had to be registered as the owner of a racehorse. It started from that a bit of fun by John Magnier who was annoyed that they’d rejected Ferguson as a speaker.

‘So they set out to find him a horse. And the problem was, of course, the horse was too damn good.’

Blackhurst’s extensive research for the book saw him seek out the thoughts United’s most ardent and vocal supporters, as he sought to understand their disdain for the Glazers – and their lack of success in getting their message across.

Blackhurst points to the fact that there were plenty of other owners within the Premier League of a similar profile that enjoyed strong links with the fanbases of the clubs they’d bought.

Sir Alex Ferguson was close friends with stakeholders John Maigner and JP McManus (left)

The Glazers have been targeted by protests from United fans, almost from the day they arrived

But there was one key element that set them apart in the eyes of the Old Trafford faithful.

‘When you get down to the nitty gritty, one fan just said to me, ‘They don’t give a s**t, they don’t care’.

‘That really gets to the heart of it, that they don’t turn up to the matches. Roman Abramovich had not dissimilar financing at Chelsea and they had debt but he turned up for the matches. He was there.

The World’s Biggest Cash Machine is available now

‘It is true that football occupies a place, special place in the community. Every town in Britain, every village in Britain has a football ground. It might just be a pitch but kids play on the pitch, adults play on the pitch.

‘The Glazers have never made that connection. They never understood that but they never bothered to take it to heart either. They never bothered to find out.’

While supporters have their own issues with the owners, Blackhurst does note one area in which he feels the Glazers certainly let down the club, and themselves.

Avram, Joel and their siblings have been successful in many strands of business, but their inability to seek out advice from those already immersed in the world of football is a decision that the author struggles to get his head around.

‘Let’s say a five-star hotel became available to me and I thought, “right I’ve always wanted to own a hotel”.

‘I haven’t got a clue about running a hotel, so what’s the first thing I’d do? Appoint people who know how to do it. Not assume I know how to do it myself.

‘That’s where the Glazers went wrong have gone wrong. It was the football side. Why didn’t the Glazers say, “Guys, we know nothing about football?”

Better late than never, it appears the Glazers are set to finally defer to a more experienced hand on the football side of things.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is expected to take a 25 per cent stake in Manchester United in deal worth £1.25billion.

The British billionaire has plenty of experience in the sporting world and already owns Ligue 1 side Nice and Swiss side Lausanne.

Not that his record with those clubs should instil much confidence among United supporters, Blackhurst points out.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is expected to see his purchase of a stake in the club ratified imminently


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify

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‘You look at his track record to do with sport, it’s poor, really poor,’ says Blackhurst.

‘Lesser people would have packed it in by now and thought. I’ve screwed up one place, I’m not going to carry on doing it.

‘Nice and Lausanne just haven’t happened in football. He buys the top cycling team and they’re no longer the top cycling team.

‘At some stage, I expect Ratcliffe is going to own Manchester United. What state the club will be in then? I don’t know.’

The World’s Biggest Cash Machine: Manchester United, the Glazers, and the Struggle for Football’s Soul by Chris Blackhurst is published by Macmillan and available now, £22 

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