Manchester United said on Friday it would create a fan advisory board and share ownership scheme as the club steps up engagement with its supporters.
The move comes close on the heels of protests last month against the club’s American owners, who were central to plans for a breakaway European Super League. The protests led to the postponement of a Premier League match at home to Liverpool.
“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,” United owner and co-chairman Joel Glazer said in a statement.
The fan advisory board will consult with the club’s senior leadership and owners and will be made up of representatives from fan groups.
The club said it has started a direct dialogue with Manchester United Supporters Trust to identify a mutually beneficial fan share scheme involving a new class of shares, which will each carry the same voting rights as the shares owned by the Glazer family.
“Joel Glazer was 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,” the fan group said in a statement.
“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 Glazers’ 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.”
The supporters in the past had urged the club to take several steps including opening up shares to fans.