Malcolm Glazer dead: Billionaire's passing is a minor jolt in Manchester United's world

Glazer, a self-made billionaire who also owns the American Football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, passed away after a long period of ill health

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The Independent Football

The future of Manchester United will remain secure – or as robust as it could be given the upheaval and under-performance of last season – despite the death of the club’s owner, Malcolm Glazer, at the age of 85.

Glazer, a self-made billionaire who also owns the American Football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, passed away after a long period of ill health, following two strokes which left him with impaired speech and limited mobility in his right arm and leg.

United’s summer was destined to be one of transition, with Louis van Gaal to come in as manager after the World Cup, with the Dutchman clutching a transfer wish-list as part of his aspirations of getting United back in to the European elite.

But Glazer’s death will not change matters, as his health problems and age had meant his day-to-day involvement in the club was minimal. He was not on the board of directors. His sons Joel and Avram are co-chairmen at Manchester United, while his other children Kevin, Bryan, Darcie and Edward are directors.

The family own 90 per cent of the club, with the remaining 10 per cent having been floated on the New York Stock Exchange.

A spokeswoman at Old Trafford said: “The thoughts of everyone at United are with the family tonight.”

Glazer took over United in 2005 to bitter opposition from the club’s fans, who opposed the amount of debt the club had taken on. Around £660 million in debt was taken on by United resulting from the Glazers’ efforts to finance their takeover of the club, amounting to annual interest payments in the tens of millions.

At the time fans were furious and the schism led to the formation of the non-League club FC United of Manchester. A Manchester United Supporters Trust spokesman said at the time: “The amount of money needed to be repaid overall is huge. The interest payment is one thing but what about the actual £660 million? It is difficult to see how these sums can be reached without significant increases in ticket prices, which, as we always suspected, means the fans will effectively be paying for someone to borrow money to own their club.”

In 2010, with concerns that the club’s fate was out of the fans’ hands, there was talk that a takeover bid would be launched, but it never came to fruition.

While there were concerns over the financial health of the club off the pitch – worries which in some quarters continue to this day – on the pitch the success to which United’s fans were accustomed to did not abate; since the Glazers have been charge, United have won five Premier League titles and three League Cups, as well as beating Chelsea in the Champions League final in Moscow in 2008.

Tampa Bay also issued a statement following his death, paying tribute to their owner and president. The statement said he was a “pioneering thinker” and “dynamic business leader”.

He bought the American club in 1995, paying a then-record $192m (£115m) for one of the least successful outfits in the National Football League. They went on to win seven play-off berths, five play-off victories and a Super Bowl title 12 years ago.

Glazer was born in Rochester, New York, in 1928. He began working for the family business selling watch parts when he was eight and took over the operation as a teenager. As president and CEO of First Allied Corp, the holding company for the family business interests, he invested in mobile-home parks, restaurants, food service equipment, marine protein, television stations, real estate and natural gas and oil production. In March 2010, Forbes ranked him as tied for the world’s 400th richest person with $2.4bn.