Malcolm Glazer, the owner of Manchester United and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, passed away today at age 85. The Buccaneer website states that the father of six children and grandfather to 14 left a succession plan to continue family ownership of the team. Glazer purchased the Buccaneers in 1995 for $192 million and the team’s estimated worth is currently in excess of $1 billion. The businessman bought his stake in the Red Devils in 2005. To the regret of many ManU fans, the acquisition was debt financed. The Glazer’s 147 million share interest in Old Trafford club is valued at $2.2 billion.
Glazer’s teams have enjoyed tremendous success over the years. The Bucs were playoff contenders for several years with Tony Dungy as coach and won the Super Bowl in 2002 once Jon Gruden took the reigns. Manchester United was Premier League champion five times under Glazer’s ownership and won the Champions League in 2008. Both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United face challenges now, even before the announcement Malcolm Glazer has passed away.
The Bucs have seemingly been in a rebuilding mode since the departure of Gruden in 2009. New Head Coach Lovie Smith takes over a team coming off a 4-12 season in which playoff contention was assumed. Former coach Greg Schiano clashed with veterans on the team with his dictatorial methods and the team failed to live up to fan expectations for the 2013 season. While the team remains talented at most positions, the greatest doubt lies with newly signed journeyman quarterback Josh McCown. He was outstanding in spot duty for the Chicago Bears last season, but does not have a strong track record as a starter.
The Old Trafford club is attempting to recover from a seventh place Premier League finish. After the retirement of longtime Manager Sir Alex Ferguson, successor David Moyes failed to deliver and was fired in April. With the recent announcement of the hiring of Louis van Gaal as manager, ManU fans hope his strong leadership and a summer transfer budget in the £150 million range can quickly turn things around. Malcolm Glazer handed management duties for the Red Devils to his sons, Avram and Joel, some time ago. They currently act as co-chairmen of the board for United. In all likelihood, the death of Malcom Glazer will change very little regarding operation of the team.
Glazer was never popular with Manchester United fans. He always had two strikes against him. He was an absentee owner and put the team into debt. While the Old Trafford club is a moneymaking machine, the squad could never rely on the owner’s deep pockets to help in a pinch. The Red Devils must be highly profitable to continue to acquire top level talent. The cry to sell the family stake in the team will likely become louder with the death of the Glazer family patriarch.
Malcolm Glazer passing away will be felt on both sides of the Atlantic as fans of Manchester United and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will fret over the impact on the clubs. At least in the near term, neither team will likely notice much difference. The clubs may notice a difference over time as they face new challenges with a two headed Glazer family leadership team.
Commentary by William Costolo