Manchester United's 77-year-old owner, Malcolm Glazer, was released from hospital in America yesterday, eight days after suffering a stroke on Easter Sunday. "The stroke has impaired Mr Glazer's speech and mobility in his right arm and leg," the club announced in a statement, although sources sought to play down the significance of the event to United's future.
"It's a family matter, not a business matter," one source said. "This will have no effect on the running of Manchester United."
Glazer courted enormous controversy as the head of the family which took control of United last year after a two-year battle. But he has never even been to Old Trafford and has never had any specific plans to do so. He is not on the board, and leaves the family's interests at United in the hands of three of his sons, Joel, Bryan and Avi, who are on the board. The club is still run on a day-to-day basis by United's chief executive, David Gill.
Arguably the most significant aspect of Glazer's illness is the extent to which it underlines the secrecy which now pervades the upper echelons at United, and the extent to which the Glazers guard their privacy.
That was demonstrated last year when Joel Glazer underwent an emergency appendectomy, and details of the operation only emerged a week later when questions were asked about why the family's buyout had apparently stalled.
There is no reason why Glazer Snr's health, even if it were to deteriorate, should have any impact on United. He agreed to the purchase of the club because it was seen as a sound financial investment for the family business, not because he knows or cares about football.
Sources say that Glazer Snr's future is not linked to that of United. The family business empire is constructed in such a way that the day-to-day operations are already run mainly by the sons, not the father, and it is the sons and their families who will take the club forward.
The Glazers also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise in the NFL.
Their interest in United stems from Joel Glazer's reported allegiance to the club since his college days, and their belief that it offers much greater potential as an international brand than had been realised under the plc regime.
The family hope to pay repay some £600m of debt they amassed in buying the club through higher ticket prices and increased commercial revenues.
Glazer was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic in Florida on 16 April after suffering the stroke. "On behalf of the entire Glazer family, I want to thank everyone at the Cleveland Clinic for their outstanding care," Joel Glazer. "My father's spirits are high and doctors expect his condition to improve with rehabilitation."
A source close to the family added: "Mr Glazer's mental faculties are 100 per cent, and we're confident that his physical condition will continue to improve."Reuse content