First, sports fans wanted their teams to win. Then they wanted fancy new stadiums with sleek amenities and gourmet food. Now, they want owners with healthier balance sheets.
The family of American businessman Malcolm Glazer, owner of the English Premier League’s fabled Manchester United club, is locked in a strange battle of wills with part of the soccer club’s rabid fan base. The Glazers acquired United in 2005 through a leveraged buyout, and the club is saddled with more than $1 billion in debt—which fans fear will knock United off its perch atop the Premier League as creditors come calling.
So as Manchester won the Carling Cup tournament Sunday at London’s Wembley Stadium, an unusual battle played out in the stands. Many Manchester United fans wore not the club’s traditional red, but rather green and gold—the colors of Newton Heath, the club’s original incarnation until 1902.