The Glazer boys who now run United

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Joel, Bryan and Avi Glazer, who were yesterday appointed to Manchester United's board, could scarcely have more contrasting personalities, being respectively described last night as "family man", "emotional movie buff" and "secretive dreamer". Yet in one respect, they are all chips off their father Malcolm's block: they smell money at Old Trafford.

Joel, Bryan and Avi Glazer, who were yesterday appointed to Manchester United's board, could scarcely have more contrasting personalities, being respectively described last night as "family man", "emotional movie buff" and "secretive dreamer". Yet in one respect, they are all chips off their father Malcolm's block: they smell money at Old Trafford.

"They don't know that much about soccer, but they see a business opportunity," said a source who has known the family for years. "They think there's a profit to be made, but don't expect them to tell you how. They trust no-one but themselves."

All three brothers have been handed careers by their father, each of them working at some stage as a vice-president of Glazer Snr's First Allied Corporation, a property firm that makes its money in investments ranging from trailer parks to shopping malls. Since 1995, Joel and Bryan have been vice-presidents of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the National Football League franchise they have run together since. For all their wealth, their shared personal office is an air-conditioned trailer, parked on a plot of land next to the Bucs' practice ground. Avi has no day-to-day role at the Bucs, and has mostly preferred to plough his own furrow, albeit with family money, controversially and unsuccessfully at times.

Joel, 38, a graduate in interdisciplinary studies, is the key player in the move to buy United and is likely to have the most hands-on role. He apparently became "an avid fan" of United at college, where one of his room mates supported Tottenham Hotspur.

"Joel's a methodical guy, unemotional, logical," said a source in Florida. "He's very steady, never loses his cool, he's a dedicated family man. He lives locally with his wife, Angela, who's a clinical psychologist, and their kids, and to my knowledge, he's never missed a Bucs game since he came here."

Bryan, 40, is in de facto control at the Bucs, and he also serves on the board of another family company, the Zapata Corporation, which had subsidiaries selling goods ranging from marine protein products to car airbags and cushions. He has two degrees, one in broadcast communications and one in law, and is credited with revamping the Bucs brand, including the logo, and turning them into a profitable business.

"He's a little more emotional than Joel," said a source. "He's not married, and don't bet on that changing. He enjoys the nightlife. He takes regular trips to Chigaco to see friends. And he likes going to the cinema. He's a movie buff, nothing frivolous. He likes realism, and dramas with punch."

Bryan is not thought to know or understand much, if anything, about football. "He probably wouldn't know the difference between a free-kick and a throw-in," said another source. "But he is committed to the Bucs and Tampa. He spent a lot of time working to bring the Super Bowl to Tampa. Folk appreciate that, especially since last week's announcement that Tampa will stage the 2009 Super Bowl."

Avi, 44, is arguably the most intriguing figure of the trio. Variously described as a "maverick", "a guy with eclectic tastes" and "the most money-minded of all the brothers", he has a taste for risk and adventure. He is also not averse to talking up his achievements.

In the small print of the Glazer family's official offer document for United, Avi is described as having "studied law" in China in the early 1980s, and then having received a law degree from a Washington university in 1985. The college confirmed yesterday that he was an alumni, although the trips to China were only short summer programs, and there is no record of Avi having ever worked as a lawyer since graduation.

Avi's business record is, at best, chequered. He is the president and chief executive of Zapata, a company that has been subject to a variety of lawsuits and investigations over allegations of unusual share dealings.

He was also the brain behind an ill-fated foray into the dot.com rush of the late 1990s, when he planned an empire of websites, based around the portal Zap.com, an offshoot of Zapata, that would make him a fortune. He even tried to make multi-billion acquisitions of other established sites.

The venture failed in 2001 after the realisation that his envisaged marriage of fish and internet was doomed to fail. "The internet people don't want to know about marine protein," he said, "And marine protein people don't want to know about the internet."

The e-business lost Avi almost $6m (£3.3m) in the nine months prior to folding alone, with some estimates putting his total loss at $100m. Avi is understood to have had significant input to the financial structure of his family's takeover of Manchester United.

Comments