On Tuesday, England’s infamously parochial Premier League Manchester United started the new season with a new manager in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who took over after Jose Mourinho was fired. And we were reminded of the value of ownership over staff, especially when it comes to things as personal as the behavior of players.
Under former manager Louis van Gaal, a rich, high-rolling businessman owned the club and the players were subject to a total spending cap to prevent them “going over the line.” That policy lasted for one year until the 2015-16 season, when Sir Alex Ferguson and his acolytes were replaced by another billionaire investor, the 66-year-old Avram Glazer.
The club’s former chairman, David Gill, wrote in the Guardian last week that the Glazers had increased spending beyond the £12 million maximum and left Ferguson alone to run the team. “We had a pretty harmonious relationship at the time,” Gill wrote. “They genuinely loved the club.”
With the Glazers out of sight, it became apparent that not all teams would be subject to the same spending limits.
Meanwhile, Manchester United has become the victim of a betrayal in more ways than one. George Best, who was killed in a car crash in 1974, was on the board of the Manchester United Charity Foundation and attended all of the matches at Old Trafford. The testimonial that Best was to have played for United in 2008 had been paid for by his close friend and local hero, Sir Bobby Charlton.
But Charlton knew that he was about to become an unpopular figure, and left Manchester United to hang on to his ownership rights at the club.