Parting AGM message from outgoing MUST Chair Nick Towle - in absentia
Hi to everyone and apologies for not being able to make it to my last AGM as Chair, but as usual I am working abroad in remote parts of the world like Burma and Bhutan, where I can always find United fans running bars and showing the games live, such is the global reach of the Premier League and United in particular. I am hoping for a project in Cayman Islands next, so I can organise an action group to harass the Glazers in their new offshore, tax-avoiding corporate domicile for our club.
But in view of recent events, we may be seeing the beginning of the end of the Glazer ownership of our club. The pulling of the New York flotation of United in the last few days, following similar failures in Hong Kong and Singapore, sees the options for the Glazers narrowing - they desperately need to raise some capital to pay down their own and our club's debts, while keeping absolute control of the club, and it is not clear how they are going to do this with the world economy in such a mess.
United is the jewel in their crown but in their usual greedy way, they overvalue the club and offer nothing to fans or investors to make it attractive to either group. Like Murdoch before them, they just want our money in their pockets so they can carry on exploiting United for their own ends and treating everyone like suckers in the process. But the world has changed since 2005 and however clever they are, they cannot play the markets as they once did. If they can't raise funds from partial flotation, and the markets will not refinance the club's debts at cheaper rates, then selling the club becomes one of a few remaining and realistic options. We may be seeing more takeover action in the coming year, so we all have to be ready for it.
Then again, we have always been ready for it - right from the days in 1998 when Theresa and I went to the Bridgewater Hall meeting after the Murdoch bid was announced and joined SUAM, offering to help the cause in any way possible. What a journey it has been since that day - a lot of highs and some lows, especially in 2005, but throughout that period SU/MUST has steadily grown and developed into the dynamic and influential organisation it is today, using the talents of both ordinary and extraordinary people who have committed themselves to the cause, all on a voluntary basis. We never give up the fight and must never stop trying to persuade all Reds that it is their fight too.
This is what makes MUST so special, we are all so driven by love for our club and determination to see the club in the ownership of fans instead of corporate butchers (in one case literally!) that we make the extra effort and expect nothing in return. And no-one has made more of that effort or given more of his time, considerable skill and energy than our CEO Duncan, without whom MUST would not be anywhere near where it is today, so I am glad and proud to have worked with him and everyone else on the Board and Committee over the last few years. In stepping down after 8 years in the Chair, I know that my successor Gerald will find a group of people working in a creative, consensual and effective way to achieve the objectives we all believe in so passionately.
Gerald himself will also bring a fresh approach, a huge amount of knowhow and a really superb contact book in the worlds of football, politics and business that can take MUST to new and even higher levels of influence and effectiveness and I wish him and all of you the best of luck and success in the coming years. I will still be around on the Committee to give support to any action where my talents can be useful and I know, we all know, that you can never really leave, never claim real success, while there is unfinished business and the dream of a club in the hands of its true owners remains unfulfilled.
United till the day we die.