It’s telling that Sir Alex Ferguson, normally content to maintain a professional division between the operations of Man United owners the Glazer family, and his role as football manager, has decided to speak out in response to allegations that Ferguson is reticent to criticize the Glazers’ self-serving New York Stock Exhchange IPO because he will directly benefit.
“In regards to suggestions that I have praised the Glazer family because I stand to financially benefit from the proposed IPO [initial public offering], there is not a single grain of truth in this allegation. I do not receive any payments, directly or indirectly, from the IPO,” Ferguson , quoted in the Guardian today.
The reason Ferguson wanted to speak out was to prevent any “rift” engineered by “the media.” But it’s telling that Ferguson has been under pressure from his own fans well in advance of rumours that he would receive part of the estimated £204 million expected to go to United employees from the deal.
Andy Green for example, author of the Andersred blog which looks in detail at Manchester United’s finances, printed a letter from the Red Issue forum directed at Ferguson. The green and gold campaign is not new, nor is anger at the Glazers’ leveraged purchase and their repeated attempts to take money out of the club.
Meanwhile the IPO has already received more damning press than Facebook’s. The share valuation has been called “narcissistic” by at least one obverver, and they have also received criticism for exploiting US legislation meant to create jobs in America in order to float the IPO.
Sir Alex Ferguson would do well to acknowledge the rift has been there for some time, and only stands to widen lest he acknowledge the anger in some quarters in Man United’s loyal fan base.