Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Friday, May 20, 2005
  Mancs just don't like Yanks
That's the conclusion I came to after reading this article in today LA Times.

For over a year now, we've been hearing about Tampa Bay Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer is buying Manchester United. The primary argument seems to have been that he is having to take too many loans out to do this and he’ll need to pay a ton in interest fees to his creditors and not put enough back into the club buying top players.

For the most part, I've bought this argument. However, it's got me to thinking (yeah, it's a scary occurrence--I really need to stop doing that). I can remember--yeah, I'm aging myself--not too long ago when the red half of Manchester were just another top-level club. The 70's and 80's weren't exactly glory days for the club. In the 90's, Man U borrowed marketing idea's from this side of the Atlantic and started going after Corporate clients a great deal more than other clubs in England. They also started merchandising the heck out of the clubs name long before the rest of the league caught on. This lead to more money being available to spend on top players--which lead to numerous EPL titles--which lead to even more merchandise sales in places like the Far East. Ok, so it's a simplistic view of events, but it's pretty accurate. Just take a look at any soccer store on this side of the Atlantic, you'll find Man U shirts. Do a Google search for Man U Supporters Clubs in any Far East country. These people buying their shirts didn't do so because of the Munich disaster. I've heard numerous comments the last few years from friends of mine back in Suffolk about seeing kids wearing Man U shirts around Ipswich.

My point being, American Sports Marketing has made the club the success they were in the 90's.

So, why are fans so up in arms about Glazer buying the club? It wasn't that long ago that he bought an NFL team that was a laughing stock and never accomplished anything. They are now have much better team colors and have won the Super Bowl (something my Chargers will probably never do).

So, Man U are at the top (or rather, 'towards' the top based on this season's EPL table) in European soccer. They've got no where to go but down if this purchase doesn't work. Poor Man U fans would suffer so much if they spend a season of mid-table obscurity. They needn't worry though. Sky Sports will probably still carry their matches so the rest of the globe can suffer with the locals catch the train up from London on Saturday--sorry, but it's a long-running joke than Man U fans aren't actually from Manchester any more.

The corporate crowd, the sales of anything with a Man U logo on it, the constant increase in ticket prices, what would Glazer do that's any different?

Glazer is a business man. I have no doubt he’s making the investment to make money above everything else. So, if all the doom and gloom Man U fans are so convinced he'll ruin the club, why is he making the move? Is it possible he knows a bit more than they about running a successful professional sports organization? He certainly knows more than I. So, I'd be willing to give him the benefit of doubt.

Why didn't the leaders of Shareholders United make these complaints when the club first went public? When ownership of the club is available on the open market, these sort of purchases can happen. They sure didn't complain about the initial infusion of cash when the shares went on the market.

The only conclusion I can come up with for the whole hysteria about this buy is summed up rather well in this quote from the LA Times article.

My personal opinion is that the reason why so many fans are upset is because he's American and they see Americans not giving a damn about football. If he was Irish or German or any European, they wouldn't kick up a foot. But people know Americans don't give two tosses about football. Americans just see it as a game. It is not. It is a passion, a way of life.

Get over it Mancs, the Yanks are coming. Football is a business. Go ahead and reform Newton Heath like the Wimbledon supporters did. Glazer will still make money. Man U will still put a good team on the pitch, probably win some more silverware with or without you, sell tons of merchandise in the Far East and to the youth of Briton. That's ok, you can go on with your ignorant opinion of American's lack of passion blissfully supporting a non-League club.

Boy, that sure sounded pissy. Oh well, I honestly think they are getting all bent out of shape over nothing. MK Dons haven't gone bust yet. Man U won't either.
 
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An American who fell in love with soccer while living in Europe.

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