Manchester United Ownership Proposes Voting Shares for Fans

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Aiming to improve fans’ flagging faith in team ownership, Manchester United announced myriad proposals Friday, including the potential creation of a new set of ownership shares that would come with the same voting rights as the Glazer family’s shares. Details about how large that voting bloc would be have not been announced.

Man U fans revolted after the club announced its intentions to join the quickly doomed European Super League in April, going so far as to cause the postponement of a May 2 match against Liverpool.

Appearing at the team’s fan forum for the first time in more than 15 years, Man U co-chairman Joel Glazer addressed a wide range of supporter concerns Friday, also pledging the creation of a fan advisory board with representatives who could discuss the club’s future with ownership.

“As owners, we want exactly the same thing as the fans—a successful team and a strong club—and we want to work in partnership to achieve those objectives,” Glazer said in a statement after the event. “Fans are the lifeblood of Manchester United, and I am personally committed to ensuring that they are given an enhanced voice, through the creation of a Fan Advisory Board and a Fan Share Scheme.”

He added that Man U and the Manchester United Supporter Trust (MUST) have been communicating “for a number of months” about the shares concept. The goal is to have a plan by the start of next season in August.

In its own statement, MUST called the idea “potentially revolutionary,” depending on the details. “In particular,” the fan group wrote, “despite Joel Glazer’s assertion that this will be ‘the largest fan ownership group in world sport,’ MUST is concerned that there is a risk that the scheme will limit the number of such Fan Shares made available.”

MUST’s origins go back to a 1998 effort to prevent Rupert Murdoch from taking over the franchise, which Sportico pegged as the English Premier League’s most valuable ($4.65 billion). MUST battled the Glazers’ takeover of United in 2005, when the club was valued around $1.5 billion. Man U IPO’d in 2012 at a value of roughly $2.3 billion.

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