Malcolm Glazer, the billionaire who led a controversial takeover of Manchester United, has died aged 85. The Glazer family purchased United for £790m in May 2005 amid protests from the Premier League club’s fans.
However, they went on to win five Premier League titles and the Champions League under his ownership.
The New York-born American’s sons, Joel and Avram, took over the day-to-day running of the club after their father suffered a stroke in April 2006.
“The thoughts of everyone at Manchester United are with his family,” said a spokesman for the Premier League club.
The club’s Dutch striker Robin van Persie, 30, tweeted today: “My condolences go out to the Glazer family and friends.”
The Glazer family retain a 90% share in United – split equally among Glazer’s six children – with 10% listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Glazer, who never actually set foot inside Old Trafford, gradually bought out United shareholders between 2003 and 2005.
His takeover was largely funded by loans secured against the club’s assets, a move that took them heavily into debt and sat uneasily with many fans at Old Trafford.
Manchester United Supporters’ Trust vice-chair Sean Bones said: “It would be inappropriate for me to make any comment about the death of Malcolm Glazer as I didn’t know him or his family personally.
“However, as a supporter, I am aware of the detrimental effect the Glazers have had on the football club and the huge debt that has been placed on Manchester United.”
Supporters’ group Shareholders United were one of the most vociferous anti-Glazer voices during the takeover, and in the aftermath.
In 2010, a group of lifelong United fans made up of City bankers and lawyers set up the Red Knights consortium in an attempt to buy the club with the support of fans, but their plans failed.
The club had no debts before the Glazer family takeover but now owe around £400m. Yet, despite a turbulent 2013-14 season which resulted in the sacking of manager David Moyes, United still generate record revenue, with turnover set to exceed £418m in the 2013-14 financial year.