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Manchester United fans want to be included in new ownership structure

Jan Kruger / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Manchester, United Kingdom, Nov 23, 2022 (AFP) - Fans gathered outside Old Trafford on Wednesday said they hoped the Glazers' time as owners of Manchester United was coming to an end as a leading supporters group insisted the Red Devils' loyal followers must have a stake in any new share structure.

The U.S.-based Glazer family said late Tuesday they were "exploring strategic alternatives," including a possible sale of the Premier League football giants.

Their announcement came just hours after it was confirmed United star player Cristiano Ronaldo was leaving with "immediate effect" following a television interview last week where, amid other criticisms, he said the Glazers "don't care about the club."

The Glazers have been unpopular with supporters ever since a £790-million ($934 million) leveraged takeover in 2005 burdened the club with huge debts.

Frustration towards the Americans has only grown during a nine-year decline in results on the pitch, with the Red Devils failing to win the Premier League since the 2012-13 season - outstanding manager Alex Ferguson's final campaign before retirement.

A supporter who identified himself as Pat, a 23-year-old who works in a nearby pub, told AFP outside Old Trafford on Wednesday: "Working at the pub when they (United) play at home, all you hear in the pub is 'Glazers out, Glazers out.' The fans seem to just hate the Glazers. I think it is time for a change."

His comments were endorsed by Juan, a 32-year-old United supporter from Mexico.

"Definitely the club needs more investment to get better infrastructure, better players than they are doing right now. It's time."

Meanwhile, the Manchester United Supporters Trust welcomed the possible departure of the Glazers but also issued a warning to any future owners.

"Whilst supporters have long called for change, of course this has to be the right change," a MUST statement said.

"Any prospective new owner or investor has to be committed to the culture, ethos and best traditions of the club."

Calling for any new owner to restore United to "former glories" and repair a crumbling Old Trafford, the statement added: "Any new ownership structure must embed supporters, including a degree of fan share ownership, in their operating model.

"Manchester United's fans are its greatest asset and hold the key to unlocking the true value of any football club."

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