Malcolm Glazer, the infamous owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and now majority owner of the most valuable soccer club in the world, Manchester United, has the right idea.
Even if you’re not European, you know of or have recently heard of Manchester United. The team has fan clubs worldwide. The club had the biggest sports star, David Beckham — bigger than Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui combined — as its starting midfielder.
World famous and ritualistically — faithfully being too light a word — followed by just about everyone that side of the Atlantic, fans and hooligans alike should be happy about the takeover, which seems like a poorly chosen word in the first place.
In 1995, Glazer purchased the Buccaneers for $192 million, a team that was valued at $672 million only eight years before it won its first ever Super Bowl. Three years later he invests more money than the average mortal can imagine into Manchester after jumping through legal hoops like a Maltese. He now has control of 75 percent of the soccer club that has more championships than the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox combined. The fights are better, too.
He has the right idea. He invested in a floundering football team in the mid-90s thinking he could change the losing records, seeing a good investment on the horizon of Tampa Bay, and it paid off in unimaginable ways. The orange-and-white once-joke is now a respectable $779 million red-and-pewter power that won’t stand another struggling year.
Just like Manchester. JP McManus and John Magnier — United’s former Irish majority shareholders — saw the team struggling against its own high standards in recent years; the team hasn’t won a European Champions Cup since 1999 and has endured two barren years in the English Premier League. But Glazer knows what he can do in less than a decade. He knows how to invest; he knows how to deal.
Which brings us to the millions of Euro fans on the verge of embarking on the biggest boycott since tea was thrown into the Boston Harbor.
They say they’ll stop going to games, stop buying sponsors’ products and even go as far as starting a new club named FC United.
It’s all talk.
It won’t happen. I remember 10 years ago the super fans of Huge Culverhouse — if there were any at all — saying they would stop going to Buccaneer games. Now there’s a waiting list for season tickets over 100,000 fans long, one of the highest of the NFL teams. People still went to games, even in last year’s 5-11 season.
Europeans will continue to go because there is more history surrounding United. It’s inevitable.
$1.47 billion may seem a lot to us, but give or take a few thousand and Glazer just bought himself international immortality.