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Tributes after Manchester United owner Malcolm Glazer dies

By James Tait

Manchester United owner Malcolm Glazer has died at the age of 85, it was announced last night.

Glazer controversially became owner of United in May 2005 and his time at the helm was an uneasy one, with many fans unhappy at the level of debt his takeover had brought the club, who have largely continued to prosper ever since.

The Buccaneers announced the news last night via their official website. A statement read: "The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are saddened to announce the passing of owner/president Malcolm Glazer at the age of 85."

Tampa Bay paid tribute to New York-born Glazer as a "pioneering thinker" and a "dynamic business leader", with the club achieving seven play-off berths, five play-off victories and their only Super Bowl triumph 12 years ago following his takeover in 1995.

A spokesperson for Manchester United said: "The thoughts of everyone at United are with the family tonight."

Glazer came to attention in the United Kingdom with his acquisition of United just under a decade ago, using loans against the club's assets to finance his takeover, totalling almost £800million.

United had previously been a debt-free club and it was Glazer's means that brought the criticism of a number of fans, although the club have continued to enjoy plenty of good times on the pitch — including five Premier League titles, three League Cups and the 2007/08 Champions League.

After the Glazer takover, a group of diehard United fans cut their ties with the club and formed FC United of Manchester in protest at the new owner. They vowed never to return to Old Trafford as long as the Glazers remained in control of the club.

FC United are owned and run by its supporters. They currently play in the Northern Premier League Premier Division.

Protests continued at Old Trafford however, reaching their height in the 2009-2010 season during which supporters were encouraged to attend games wearing green and gold, the colours worn by the club when it was first formed in 1878 as Newton Heath.

This was to mainly show opposition to a £500m bond issue in January 2010 to ease the club's crippling burden of debt.

The Glazers have since floated 10 per cent of the club on the New York Stock Exchange in order to raise funds, with the debt currently standing at around £350m.

Since the Glazer takeover, United have spent almost £700m on interest payments and financial costs connected to the debt — a figure which exceeds the money pumped into Manchester City by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan for new signings.

It is understood Glazer's death will not have any significant effect on the ownership of the Premier League club, with the Glazer family still retaining a 90 per cent share.

With United now falling out of the top four, the Glazers are set to sanction a £200m spending spree on new signings this summer in an effort to close the gap on wealthy rivals.

New boss Louis van Gaal has already identified targets such as Southampton defender Luke Shaw and German international Toni Kroos.

Born in Rochester, New York as one of seven children, Glazer took over his family business at the age of 15 following the death of his father and went on to thrive in professional business, owning or becoming a substantial shareholder in a number of renowned public companies.

Glazer is survived by his wife Linda, six children — including United's co-chairmen Joel and Avram — and 14 grandchildren.

The Buccaneers have announced a private family funeral service will be held for Glazer in due course.

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