These are some of the key questions that fans want answers for in the #OpenLetterToEd :
- What steps are you taking to back Ole with the right transfers?
- We have ‘tracked’ Jadon Sancho for over a year now, yet the groundwork was not done before-hand, why?
- Why can United not manage to sign more than one or two players per window, each of them dragging onto the last minute, while other clubs are able to perform much better?
- What lessons have you learned from signing Bruno? Do you realize the benefit of paying up the asking price if the player is right?
- Could you share why a Director of Football has not yet been hired?
- How does the performance of the team on the pitch affect your salary?
- Why does the club need to issue dividends when instead, the funds could be reinvested to sign players, and/or fix the infrastructure around Old Trafford?
Sir Matt Busby Way, Old Trafford,
Manchester, England, M16 ORA
I am writing to you, on behalf of thousands, if not millions, of fans worldwide, with the hope of getting a response from you or the Glazer family directly, addressing the fans on the current state of the club. At the outset I want to make clear that we condemn the attack outside your house. That is not what we stand for and will not support such activities. We hope that you understand that the club represents more than just football to a lot of us, and therefore all of the concerns highlighted below are from the sole perspective of seeing our beloved club reach and stay at the pinnacle of football, where we belong.
What this letter is not
Before I proceed with specific points below, I want to make it abundantly clear what this is letter is not. This letter is NOT a grievance letter filled with baseless complaints that you can place on the ‘ignore’ pile. This is not another social media outcry. This letter is a genuine attempt to breakthrough to you, and make an appeal to you to address the fans directly and honestly on the various issues highlighted below, all of which are concerns that fans all over the world share.
A word on our fan base
I want to highlight that the 1.1 billion fans and followers, per your own study through Kantar, of Manchester United around the world are the ones that allow you to make the lucrative commercial deals. Without us, there will be no multi-million, multi-year mega sponsorship deals for you to sign. Please respect that fact. Also, show the respect deserved by fans around the world as well as in Manchester who spend their hard-earned money on club tickets, travel, and merchandise. Often, these add up to a significant portion of our their salaries and represent many sacrifices. Yet, we find ways to support the club in good times and bad. People in Asia, where there are close to 700 million supporters by your own estimate, regularly stay awake until 2 am to catch live games even during weekdays. Respect that passion.
Now, let us get to it.
The following are some immediate as well as ongoing concerns regarding the club that we hope get answered.
The worst time of being a United fan occurs twice every year, during the transfer windows. United’s commercial might, powered by our fans, means every tabloid under the sun has a rumor daily, sometimes hourly. However, that is not what we want to talk to you. What we would genuinely like to understand is this –
What steps are you taking to back Ole with the right transfers?
It was known well in advance exactly what positions and what players we need to sign, yet negotiations show no signs of conclusion. Several other clubs have managed to sign players as soon as the window opened because they did the work in the background.
We have ‘tracked’ Jadon Sancho for over a year now, yet the groundwork was not done before-hand, why?
Even if we do end up signing Sancho, I would like to point out that pre-season preparation is crucial if we want to challenge for the title and dragging signings to the last minute does not help.
Why can United not manage to sign more than one or two players per window, each of them dragging onto the last minute, while other clubs are able to perform better?
Furthermore, not only do we end up signing the player at the very last minute, we do that by paying the asking price anyway.
Could you explain then, why let the negotiations drag until the very last moment?
And yes, we understand Covid-19 has meant loss in ticket revenue for the club. And that would mean certain restrictions on how we do transfer business. However, other clubs have been dealing with the exact scenario, yet are signing key players, especially clubs that compete with us for the top four spot. That is a cause of concern among fans. Do not expect Ole to deliver a miracle yet again by finishing third with a largely depleted squad for the better part of the season. Which brings me to the following question:
What lessons have you learned from signing Bruno? Do you realize the benefit of paying up the asking price if the player is right?
Could you explain why you are the one signing off on transfers?
If you could elaborate on your extensive football knowledge and background, that would put a lot of fans at ease. Knowing that the right person is making critical decisions for the club. If you believe you are not the right person to do that, then
Why has a Director of Football not yet been hired?
Accountability and Incentives
The Board of Directors of Manchester United PLC is supposed to be a governing body acting in the best interests of the club and keep you, the CEO and Vice Chairman, accountable. However, of the 12 Directors on the Board, 6 are members of the Glazer family – Avram, Joel, Kevin, Bryan, Darcie and Edward. Add to that, yourself and Cliff Baty, CFO, the Board becomes a body with 8 members who are part of the club, and only 4 independent Directors. Which means, there are no checks and balances.
How does the on-pitch performance of the team affect your salary?
I also hope that some of the largest public investors in the club, such as Baron Funds (29% of outstanding shares) and Nick Train (28%), start asking tough questions. All too often, we see earnings calls graced with questions such as “what does it mean to loan a player?” These softball questions need to be replaced with real operating questions about the club. Perhaps, one day you will host a listening session to hear out fans, even if Neil Ashton says otherwise.
A straightforward question here,
Why does the club need to issue dividends when instead, the funds could be reinvested to sign players, and/or fix the infrastructure around Old Trafford?
There is much you can do with the funds; however, you choose to issue dividends. Considering we are not in the business of selling commodities, could the funds not be invested to capture the commercial potential in monetizing our performance on the field and reaching the 1.1 billion supporters worldwide?
I want to underscore these questions are not intended to disparage or insult. This is a genuine attempt to get some answers from you, and possibly the Glazer family, that us fans have been trying to get for quite some time now.
Often, as a fan, it can feel like screaming into the vacuum to be heard. At the very least, I hope you read this and take actions to back Ole and the team. The job is not done until we are at the top.
Manchester United Fans