It does not take a giant leap of imagination to appreciate how Manchester United supporters will feel about footage of Avram Glazer being approached in Palm Beach, Florida, by Sky News’ Sally Lockwood and asked if he has a message for them.
Glazer said nothing but the scene says everything. The upmarket vehicles which the line the street Glazer strides down – stylish, round-frame shades balanced above his pink mask in brilliant sunshine – are seemingly so protected that he has not even seen fit to close his driver’s window.
His Aston Martin’s garish, immaculate, orange leather trim and matching steering wheel ooze ostentatious wealth. The seat belt alarm pings immediately. All of this is comfortably affordable when your family has been draining Manchester United of a £100million dividend every year since 2005.
Avram Glazer was tracked down by Sky News in Palm Beach, Florida as he walked to his car
The American billionaire refused to comment as he stepped into his garish car
Individuals like Glazer don’t generally respond to being door-stepped by offering heartfelt apologies. His irritation is palpable as Lockwood steadfastly presses him for a response. But despite his steely resolve to avoid all eye contact, as he places his water bottle in the holder, eases the car into reverse and accelerates away, this uncomfortable encounter will have resonated.
It will have reminded Glazer that the world is a far smaller place than in 2005, when his family bought the club. Back then, his media representative Tes Nayani considered the tabloid newspaper reporter he encountered in Palm Beach to be ‘enterprising’ and mildly amusing.
‘This bizarre episode of cat and mouse had sitcom potential,’ was the description Nayani later gave of his attempts to keep said reporter from Glazer’s door.
There is only so much protection he can get from angry Man United fans back in England
Around 100 United protesters made their way into the ground and let off flares on the pitch
Manchester United supporters have been protesting against the Glazer family ownership
Back then, the Glazers were so impressed by what ‘they’ had done after buying the Tampa NFL franchise – including the construction of a new stadium that was entirely funded by taxpayers – that they even suggested Nayani invite UK journalists over to view it all for themselves. They imposed a caveat. No interview opportunities with them would be forthcoming.
Glazer had a breezy confidence about his Manchester acquisition at that time. He knew to call the sport ‘football’ and not soccer. He’d roomed with an English Spurs-supporting friend at college. And when his PR guy admitted to being a Liverpool fan, he replied: ‘As long as you love football, that’s good enough for me.’
What he never remotely anticipated was that fans of Manchester United, a club founded by working class people in a city with proud radical traditions as the seat of the Industrial Revolution, could not be bought off with a player or two each summer – financed by the proceeds of the side’s commercial revenues.
Glazer cannot ignore the desire for change after his failed bid to join a European Super League
Avram Glazer (left) and his brother Joel have been urged to leave the club by angry supporters
After the European Super League scandal had blown the lid off fans’ simmering discontent, Glazer promised he would try to ‘improve’ lines of communication with these people. But while he was busy dodging a reporter, at least two members of the so-called Big Six were actually following up on such promises.
As Sportsmail reported on Wednesday, Chelsea have already said they will allow fan representation at board meetings from July. In Liverpool on Tuesday, the Spirit of Shankly organisation included a request for two fan representatives on their club’s board, during a meeting with American chief executive Billy Hogan. Hogan has acknowledged the request and said he will respond ‘within days’.
The demand for change is irresistible, however much the Glazers choose to obfuscate, ignore and avoid eye contact. A top-of-the-range air-conditioned Aston Martin in Palm Beach, Florida, will provide only so much protection. There is nowhere to hide.
Far away from the anger of fans in Manchester, Glazer is hiding away in Palm Beach, Florida