Joel Glazer makes commitment to fans
Joel Glazer has spoken of his love for Manchester United and his commitment to strengthening engagement with supporters during a two-hour meeting with the club’s Fans’ Forum.
The executive co-chairman said the meeting was “a positive step for the club and its relationship with its supporters” after setting out his vision and answering questions from fan representatives.
The meeting took place earlier this month, and the minutes were published today (Monday) on ManUtd.com.
Speaking to fan representatives via video link because of the pandemic, Joel explained to the Forum his lack of prior communication since his family took charge of Manchester United, and promised to improve engagement in future.
“We always took the approach that we should stay in the background. Let the manager, the players, the people at Old Trafford, be the ones out in front, communicating and talking,” he explained. “But in retrospect, that was not the right approach and there's a middle ground. Our silence wrongly created the impression that we don't care, that we aren't football fans, that we only care about our commercial interests and money. And I can assure you, nothing could be further from the truth.”
Emphasising his love for the club, Joel said that “not a day has gone by” over the past 16 years when he had not woken up “feeling the weight and responsibility of continuing the traditions of this club”.
“Now, unfortunately, that hasn't been communicated properly. I may not live in Manchester and be fortunate enough to be at Old Trafford, every week, but like the hundreds of millions of supporters we have around the world, I watch every match. I can't wait for every match. I enjoy the thrill of every goal. And I feel the utmost agony of every defeat. I personally take losses very hard, no different than any supporter. The losses hurt. I don’t like losing and I share the same feelings as supporters. Ultimately, we're all in this for what's on the pitch. It’s about winning trophies and the enjoyment of the game.”
Turning to matters on the pitch, Joel said the club was “absolutely on the right track” to deliver renewed long-term success under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer together with our new football director, John Murtough, and technical director, Darren Fletcher.
“The goal is to win every competition... we want to play a style of football that our supporters can be proud of. But we want to do it in a way that goes along with our history, bringing youth players through our Academy. There's no greater connection or no greater pride than a young player, a Marcus Rashford, coming up through the Academy and succeeding on the pitch. That, balanced with competing in the transfer market.
“At the end of the day, we all share the same goal: to win trophies... and we think we've set up a structure behind the scenes to deliver success.”
Joel said the same was true of our Women’s team, which has established itself as a leading force in the Women’s Super League in just three years since its creation.
“We're very proud of what our Women's team has done over the last few years. But there's a lot more we can do as well. And we are determined to have a Women's team that follows the values of our club and grows, and that we can all be proud of.”
Significant investment was planned in improved facilities for the Women’s team, Joel said, as part of a wider upgrade of the club’s training facilities. Old Trafford was also due for increased investment in coming years, he added.
“I think we can all agree Old Trafford is the heart and soul of the club. Over the last 10 years, we've spent about £100 million on infrastructure at Old Trafford, but that was just annual upkeep and minor changes here and there. We're now going to begin the process, and we had always planned going through a process of a much more major development of Old Trafford.
“The thing I want to stress is these projects do take time. They're big projects. And we want to make sure we end up with a result that everyone can be proud of. The same goes for the training ground. Work has been underway behind the scenes to update the training ground, and again, keep it as a world-class facility.”
“When we bought the club, this area is where we felt we could have a positive influence...and I believe that commercial success has led to a lot of positives,” he said. “We've had amongst the highest net transfer spend in world football in the last five years, amongst the highest wages, and we've been able to keep ticket prices affordable. We haven't raised ticket prices in over 10 years. That's something that, as a club, we're very proud of. And I think as a club we've led the way by doing that. It put a lot of pressure, throughout football and other clubs, to keep ticket prices in line and not out of reach for fans."
The Fans’ Forum includes representatives from across the club’s fan base, including Season Ticket-holders, Members, Supporters’ Clubs and disabled fans. Joel said he felt “pretty emotional” after hearing first-hand about their passion for Manchester United and promised to “take to heart” their views about how the club could work together better with fans.
“There's always going to be some things that happen that everyone's not going to agree on, or may not like, but we're trying our best to minimise those. And I think if we can work together, that we ultimately can do great, powerful things – grow this club, win trophies and ultimately be proud on a daily basis of all the accomplishments and do what's most important; enjoy Manchester United.”