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Where's Glory, Glory Man United? US Owners Taken £1Bln Out of Trophyless Club

Manchester United fans will watch on enviously on 1 June when their arch-rivals Liverpool take on Tottenham in the UEFA Champions' League final in Madrid.

It has been a tough season for United supporters as their crosstown rivals, Manchester City, won a historic treble after pipping Liverpool to the Premier League title.

United struggled for form, sacked manager Jose Mourinho in December and replaced him with former player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who produced a temporary boost but ultimately failed to secure a Champions' League position.

​The club even lost their last game of the season, at home to relegated Cardiff, and last week, on 16 May, the Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward admitted it had been a "turbulent season".

Woodward said: "Preparations for the new season are underway and the underlying strength of our business will allow us to support the manager and his team as we look to the future."

​But the fact Manchester City and Liverpool ended the season more than 30 points ahead of United has put into stark contrast the ownership of the clubs, all of whom have foreign owners.

Malcolm Glazer, a New York-born property developer who bought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL franchise in 1995 and helped them win the Superbowl in 2003, bought United in 2005 in a deal which was heavily leveraged with loans.

The structure of the takeover infuriated many United fans and one group even went so far as to abandon Old Trafford and set up a new club, FC United of Manchester, who were untainted by profit or corporate ownership and continue to prosper in non-league football.

© AP Photo /
Andy Walsh, who later formed FC United, criticises the Glazer turnover at a meeting in 2005

Glazer died in 2014 but he left United in the hands of his sons, Avram, Joel and Bryan.

Sports journalist David Conn, wrote in The Guardian that the Glazers have taken £1 billion out of the club in dividends since 2005 — including £46 million in the last financial year — and had not put any of their own money in, compared to  Liverpool's owners, FSG, who have borrowed £110 million to rebuild the main stand, hired a top coach with a modern structure and recruited great players like Mo Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson who brought the club to within a whisper of a Premier League and Champions' League double.

​United have been champions of England 20 times but not since Sir Alex Ferguson's last season in charge in 2013.

The club has invested heavily in players — Paul Pogba for £89 million, Romelu Lukaku for £75 million, Angel Di Maria for £59 million, Juan Mata for £37 million, Anthony Martial for £36 million, Eric Bailly for £30 million, Ander Herrera for £29 million, Marouane Fellaini for £27.5m, Memphis Depay for £25 million and Wilfried Zaha for £15 million — but it was only done by borrowing money and United now have estimated debts of £500 million.

Since the appointment of Woodward, a former investment banker who advised the Glazer family on its takeover in 2005,  as Executive Vice Chairman in 2012, the club's commercial revenue has more than doubled.

​But the club have been through three managers — David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Mourinho — without getting anywhere near the top of the Premier League.

Solskjaer said United would need a "miraculous season" to challenge for the Premier League title next year and has begun planning for the long term with the purchase of 21-year-old Daniel James from Swansea.

Liverpool — who were last champions of England way back in 1990 — were taken over by the Fenway Sports Group (FSG), which owns the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise, in 2010.

​FSG have spent £817 million on new signings, recouping £550 million in the process — leaving a net spend of £267 million.

Last year it was reported that United's debt stood at £487 million — down from the £525 million it was at one point — much of which was money which the Glazers borrowed in order to buy United in the first place.

But the big difference between Liverpool and Manchester City — who were taken over by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi in 2008 — and United is that the owners of the two more successful clubs have not taken any money out of them in dividends.

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