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Arnold defends Glazers' tenure

Published 13/05/2015

Richard Arnold is pleased with the 'long-term approach' of Manchester United's owners
Richard Arnold is pleased with the 'long-term approach' of Manchester United's owners

Manchester United group managing director Richard Arnold has rejected accusations that the Glazer family's ownership has harmed the club.

Tuesday marked the 10-year anniversary of the Americans' takeover at Old Trafford, with their £790million leveraged buyout in 2005 causing uproar among the club's fans.

It sparked the creation of breakaway club FC United and the Manchester United Supporters Trust used the anniversary to launch a fresh attack on the family, accusing them of draining £1billion and wrecking the club's chances of European domination.

MUST's press release said not investing may be considered an "ownership crime" by fans, but "far worse than that they have actually extracted colossal sums from Manchester United".

However Arnold defended the owners when those comments were put to him on Wednesday.

"The various mechanisms we use to listen (to supporters' groups) are wide and broad," he said. "They would have their view, I wouldn't agree with it. I think a very long-term view has been taken.

"We work very hard to do our best at being a very well-run club and a lot of work has gone into engagement and other activities. It stands on its own.

"We listen to fans, be it on Facebook, Twitter, conducting surveys - we survey 80,000 fans in 60 countries around the world once a quarter to make sure we keep up to date on the opinions and how they're done.

"It's very important that there are fans' groups. Some have a high profile, some are unknown, but we're listening to those.

"The ultimate challenge for football club directors is balancing up those views."

Arnold believes United have an "excellent track record" of balancing positive and negative opinions for the betterment of the club.

They have indeed enjoyed success on the pitch during the Glazers' stewardship, winning five Barclays Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League - success Arnold told The Telegraph's Business of Sport conference is no fluke.

"In any organisation, if you have poor decision-making, a lack of vision and a short-termist approach - whether that is butchers, bakers, candlestick makers or a football club - it is not going to do very well," he said.

"Yesterday was the 10-year anniversary of our current owners and that long-term approach they've taken, the vision they've shown and the decisions they've made have borne out on and off the pitch and they've been strong."

In the short-term, things have not been so comfortable in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson's departure and the subsequent struggles of successor David Moyes.

It meant this season was United's first without European football since 1990, although a Champions League return looks all but assured after making progress under Louis van Gaal.

"If you ask anybody at the club how important is it, whatever you call the competition, not being at the top table you can be in is a matter of pride," Arnold added.

"It's where the players want to play, it's where the fans want to see us. Not being there hurts, right? We all aspire and see it as a key achievement milestone for us.

"Economically it is a different question. Again going back to taking a long-term vision and structuring your business to be profitable and the diversified income stream we have.

"I think it has been a much smaller number than many people expected in terms of how it has affected our profitability and our ability to compete economically for the best players and that sort of thing on the pitch.

"The fact we manage our finances to make sure that we have a long-term view, we are sustainable and solid, doesn't take away from the fact not being in it was really painful.

"Tuesday and Wednesday watching other teams compete broke my heart all this year. Touch wood, next year that will be different. You want to be in that top competition."

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