Are share prices the real problem at Manchester United?

Manchester United have been a worldwide brand for as long as many of us can remember. Man United is one of the most successful and most prestigious football clubs in the world, which is no news to a majority of us. In 2012, Manchester United Football Club entered the New York Stock Exchange, where it currently sells at $17.52 (£10.31). The question that this should raise is “Are the decisions made at Man United made to benefit the club, or the share price?”

The answer to this question is that the board of directors seem to be more concerned about share prices than the actual success of the club on the pitch. This should not be surprising as this seems to be the way many big names enter the stock market and suddenly quality falls behind money on the list of important topics, and this is what is happening at Manchester United.

Ed Woodward is an accountant, and a very successful one at that. He came into the United picture at the same time the Glazer regime took ownership, and he came in as a financial planner for the Glazers. Somehow in the years since he has made his way to becoming in charge of not only how much money is spent on players, but he also decides who is bought. He made the wonderful decision of buying the toilet brush last minute during the unsuccessful 2013 summer transfer window, which was followed by a horrific and embarrassing 2013-2014 Premier League season.

Fans were happy to hear that David Moyes was sacked during the final stretch of the season, and after a few weeks of nail biting were somewhat happy to hear that Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal would be taking over, and that he had a large list of players that he wanted to bring in behind him. However it seems as though Mr. Woodward has been unsuccessful in obtaining these players with talks falling apart all over the place and prices going up for players fans have been questioning. Some wonder why we have an accountant buying players, and not someone who is a skilled ambassador/negotiator. However he has had some lucky success with the signings on Ander Herrera and the soon to be confirmed Luke Shaw.

Common sense would tell any club owner to bring in a better person to buy/sell players, but not even the Glazers can see that they need someone different than a number cruncher. It seems as if the people who are really in charge at United have no clue how football business works, and only become involved at United for the stock options.

Manchester United aren’t the only club who have big corporate offices and CEO’s. Chelsea have seen this occur as well with Russian businessman Roman Abramovich taking charge a few years before the Glazers came to Manchester. However it seems as though Abramovich has a little more of a clue as to what he’s doing, While the Glazers are too busy bathing in the money they have made off of the stock market, and merchandise sales, and could care less about winning trophies, as even the money made from Champions League titles are most likely pennies compared to the money coming from Wall Street.