Even in Super Bowl-winning Tampa, the Glazers are far from loved

Even in Super Bowl-winning Tampa, the Glazers are far from loved

Not that it will make Manchester United fans feel better, but the Glazers are barely visible in Tampa Bay too, even though the family have owned the home NFL team since 1995 and won the Super Bowl three years ago. months (thanks mainly to Tom Brady and a turbocharged defense).

The head of the family, if you can call it that, is Joel Glazer, one of six children of the late Malcolm Glazer. Joel Glazer typically only makes himself available to the Tampa media once a year, and although he has a pleasant demeanor, he hardly talks about his family’s relationship with the club.

Due to the pandemic, Glazer’s availability to reporters in Tampa this year consisted of a 20-minute Zoom call in March. But even in a typical year, four or five news outlets each get 10 minutes with Glazer, and Manchester United family ownership questions are off limits.

This year, keeping his character, he was bland and vague when he threw softballs at his favorite moment of the Super Bowl season (“It was just more the environment as a whole,” he said. he said) and how family roles on the team had changed in recent years. “We all have different areas that we focus on,” he replied, “but it’s a collective effort, a collective organizing effort. No big changes there. Imagine how hot it would have been if the Bucs lost le Super Bowl.

Tampa Bay has become a centerpiece of American sports in the span of four and a half months, with the Lightning winning the NHL’s Stanley Cup last September and the Rays qualifying for the World Series in October (and losing to the Dodgers) before the Tom Brady directed by Tom Brady. Bucs beat Kansas City in Super Bowl LV, the first time a team has won an NFL title in their own stadium.

However, someone other than a Glazer will have to serve as the town’s pitchman. Even in Florida, the glaziers’ way is to get out of the way, which often doesn’t help them.

“I wouldn’t say the Glazers are loved or hated out there,” John Romano, a sports columnist for the Tampa Bay Times, told The Guardian this week. “I think most people are indifferent to them because, even 25 years later, the Glazers are still a mystery. And that’s a shame, because they took a franchise that was a complete joke and brought two Super Bowl titles to Tampa Bay.

Manchester United supporters, who the Glazers bought off in 2005 and immediately grappled with huge debts, do not seem indifferent to the Glazers, judging by the weekend’s protests that led to the postponement of their match against Liverpool. But United fans have never been thrilled with ownership of the Glazers for several reasons: The Glazers are Americans (or, perhaps more accurately, not Brits) who have loaded the club with debt and, just as importantly , have overseen United’s relatively sterile Premier League run. in recent years from an ocean away.

Manchester United supporters are demonstrating against their owners ahead of Liverpool’s game last Sunday. Photograph: Phil Noble / Reuters

The situations in Tampa Bay and Manchester are different. While United have been one of the biggest clubs in the world for decades, before the Glazers took over, the Bucs had 12 straight losing seasons and Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl in the property’s eighth season. of the family. The Bucs subsequently failed to make the playoffs for 12 straight years, but won it all last season after adding Brady. Then there is the difference between European sports and leagues in the United States, where owners who do something like uproot a franchise and move it to another city are seen as obnoxious rather than inconceivable. American fans often dislike the owners – as evidenced by the long dispute between the New York Mets and the now-defunct Wilpon family – but they rarely turn into a mass protest like they do in Europe.

The mess of the European Super League, of course, led him to the top in Manchester. Public reaction has been negative as the six English clubs involved in ESL, three of which are American-owned and one with NFL ties, appeared greedy. Worse yet: they seemed indifferent to how British fans feel a sense of belonging to their local teams (if not literally) and apathetic about the beloved English football pyramid, with promotion and relegation.

The idea was abandoned after two stormy days. Joel Glazer tried to sound contrite, opening a letter to United fans on April 21 on the club’s website with: “You’ve made it clear your opposition to the European Super League, and we’ve listened. We were wrong and we want to show that we can fix things.

“While the wounds are believed and I understand that it will take time for the scars to heal, I am personally committed to rebuilding trust with our fans and learning from the message you delivered with such conviction.”

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The message probably would have been better delivered in person, or even in a video. But fan groups were in no way in a mood to forgive Glazer, which led to chaos at Old Trafford. Fans don’t really know the Glazers because they say they never meet, but that’s also a perfect reason why they want the Glazers to sell the club.

As Tyrone Marshall wrote this week in the Manchester Evening News: “A lot of it is not just how the Glazers have run the club, but the ignorance they have shown to supporters and to the way they treated them, with contempt. “

The same feeling was present in Tampa. Romano wrote a column in the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday about the Glazers and Manchester United which included the passage: “British fans are not used to the owners giving the shots without engaging the fans or at least doing it. pretending to listen to their suggestions and complaints. Honestly, it’s remarkable that the Glazers spent 15 years there without knowing it. This speaks to a remarkable level of unconsciousness or arrogance.

The Glazers are still mostly invisible in Tampa Bay, although veteran journalist Ira Kaufman of joebucsfan.com told The Guardian they are active in community projects. As for the management of the team, they are also discreet in this area.

“While the family does not interfere with football operations on a daily basis, the Glazers have traditionally led the search for a new head coach,” Kaufman said. “They also weigh on important decisions like the signing of Tom Brady or improvements at the Raymond James stadium. Joel and Bryan Glazer attend every Bucs game, home and away.

But then Kaufman got down to the point: “Some Bucs fans believe the Manchester United acquisition has diverted some of the family’s attention and financial resources. [Bucs] franchise. That view was reinforced during the club’s 12-year playoff drought, but the Super Bowl triumph has silenced Glazer skeptics here, at least for now.

If last weekend’s scenes are anything to go by, keeping United fans quiet will be a much tougher task.


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