Manchester United have confirmed their creation of a Fan Advisory Board to give supporters greater say on their decision-making.
The club have vowed “to ensure the fans’ perspective is embedded within the club’s decision-making processes”. United also said they had initiated a “direct dialogue with MUST (Manchester United Supporters Trust) with the aim of identifying a mutually beneficial Fan Share Scheme”.
The announcement came after United co-chairman Joel Glazer attended his first fans’ forum on Friday.
Glazer said in a statement on United’s official website: “I was pleased to join the fans’ forum to listen to the views of supporters, address their questions, and share ideas on how we can improve the way we work together.
“As owners, we want exactly the same thing as the fans – a successful team and a strong club – and we want to work in partnership to achieve those objectives.
“Fans are the lifeblood of Manchester United and I am personally committed to ensuring that they are given an enhanced voice, through the creation of a Fan Advisory Board and a Fan Share Scheme.
“The club has been in discussions with MUST regarding a fan share scheme for a number of months and has already sought external legal advice on options. Discussions will now intensify, with the aim of agreeing a plan before the start of the new season.”
United said the proposal was the creation of an advisory board “to consult with the club’s senior leadership and owners” that will be made up of “representatives from the Forum and key fan groups to ensure the fans’ perspective is embedded within the club’s decision-making processes”.
Regarding the share scheme, United said it would “involve a new class of shares which will each carry the same voting rights as the shares owned by the Glazer family”, adding: “This would establish a foundation for supporters to build a meaningful ownership stake and create a new spirit of partnership with the club.”
MUST respond to statement
A statement from MUST said there had been a “frank exchange of views” in Friday’s meeting and that Glazer had been “held to account on a series of issues including debt, dividend payments, tickets prices, lack of investment in the stadium and lack of engagement with supporters for 16 years”.
It described the share scheme as “potentially revolutionary”, and said: “MUST is cautious about whether this Fan Share Scheme will meet their own tests before they give it approval as despite the huge concession on voting rights that this proposal signals as ever the devil is always in the detail.
“In particular, despite Joel Glazer’s assertion that this will be ‘the largest fan ownership group in world sport’, MUST is concerned that there is a risk that the scheme will limit the number of such fan shares made available so reducing the opportunity for this to achieve a meaningful collective fan ownership stake – and ultimately with the potential to result in a change in control of the club.
“For that reason – MUST is today signalling their intention to recruit the millions of members of Manchester United’s huge global fanbase to unite behind their campaign and sign up to their pre-launch “Sign For United” campaign site so they can be part of the campaign when it launches in the next 10 days.
“The aim of the campaign is to demonstrate the huge appetite amongst United support for a better model of ownership which embraces the fans at its heart and in so doing compel the club to deliver a really revolutionary Fan Share Scheme which will both excite the fans and also exceed their demand for shares.”