The Glazer family would have us believe that their years of ownership at Manchester United have been defined by trophies. Eight have arrived since the Americans bought the club in 2005. United supporters, however, would talk more in terms of parsimony, secrecy and silence.
As the Qatar royal family prepare to test the strength of the Glazers’ resolve with a fresh bid of £1.5billion for the club, it would appear that they are being driven by a different agenda; by one thing the Americans never even considered. A desire to be popular.
United’s followers detest the aggressive way in which the Americans took the club into private ownership. They detest the debt. They detest the jacked-up ticket prices.
Just as much, though, the rank and file of Old Trafford loathe the Glazers for their failure to acknowledge they even exist; for the fact they have always seen United followers as a simple source of cash. This refusal to communicate has alienated United followers as much as anything.
In Qatar, we are told, things would be done differently. The Glazers never needed popularity. They needed an investment vehicle and a way to make money. If they sell to Qatar, the return on their investment will be enormous.
To the Emirate states, however, popularity is everything. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar all have European Tour golf events. The first two have Formula One circuits and Qatar is about to build one.
Qatar have secured a World Cup, a shirt deal with Barcelona and persuaded United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola to endorse them as a serious base for sport.
If Qatar manage to obtain the world’s most famous football club then one thing is for sure. It won’t be done quietly. Indications are that the ruling Al Thani family would embrace the green and gold campaign that so illuminated the anti-Glazer feeling last season.
They would involve their supporters. It’s an easy PR card to play, of course. Actually involving the self-styled ‘Red Knights’ in a takeover would appear to make little sense. Qatar certainly don’t need the financial aid and it would only complicate matters.
But tacitly acknowledging their existence and giving a nod towards the ‘Love United Hate Glazer’ factions will only deepen any goodwill that may be extended to them if a bid comes to fruition.
United supporters, of course, are confused. Despite the noises coming out of the city, United continue to publicly deny that their owners would sell. They could not be more emphatic.
However, there is one simple fact to consider. If the Glazers are contemplating a sale, chief executive David Gill and his colleagues at Old Trafford would be among the last to know.
Gill has done his best to keep the club functioning during the chaotic years of Glazer. He and manager Sir Alex Ferguson have done a remarkably efficient job.
While the balance sheet has looked a mess, the trophy room has continued to fill up. The Glazers, though, are unlikely to let Gill into the loop until the moments before a sale is concluded. Why would they?
They rode straight over his toes on the way into Old Trafford and they will, in all probability, do so on the way out. The Glazers have been in this for the money from the outset.
Given the hostility that has come their way every time their private jet from Florida has touched down in Manchester, it is hard to imagine that they have enjoyed their ownership very much.
It is not hate and threats and bile that will drive the Americans out of Stretford, though. They have long since disregarded that. No, it is money. In Qatar, there is plenty of that. It depends now on just how much they are prepared to offer.
Copyright 2011 by The Daily Mail