Your verdict: Old Trafford split

January 20, 2004
By Dominic Raynor
(Archive)

Manchester United's majority shareholders John Magnier and JP McManus are waging war with manager Sir Alex Ferguson over the stud rights of race horse Rock of Gibraltar but the spat has spilled over into football.

The Irish duo have urged Sir Roy Gardner to suspend negotiations over Ferguson's new contract and have threatened to contact the Financial Services Authority to investigate the club's transfer dealings if they are not 'taken seriously'.

United responded with a statement announcing a review of their transfer procedure and the fans responded by backing Ferguson in what they see as a personal vendetta against United's most successful manager.

  • Email newsdesk@soccernet.com with your thoughts.

  • If Cubic Expression feel that they are not being taken seriously then I suggest that they sell their shares to someone who is interested in the club. Go away Mr Magnier, we are not interested in your petty politics.

    Yes, United are ripped off every time they buy a player, but you have to accept that that is going to happen and it comes with success. To question the most successful manager after so long?

    Magnier you are a pathetic little man and you should go before the real supporters crush you at an expensive and pointless EGM. Fergie will be awarded a new deal, he will sign, and he will continue to build a new, younger United team.
    Neil Rowley

    It is a bit disgusting reading how the largest shareholders are determined to see Sir Alex Ferguson out of Man Utd for what is clearly personal problems with him. Sir Alex is as dispensable as any other human being but it will be a costly mistake if the two Irish gentlemen were allowed to succeed.

    The club are successful because of the motivation inspired by the manager and I shudder to imagine the impact his likely departure, the way it is unfolding, would have on the club.

    By the way Chelsea took the former Man Utd CEO and I can see them eager to add Sir Alex to complete their rout of Old Trafford. Then of course Van Nisteroy (who apparently ranks number one on the targets of Real Madrid) and most of the other players would follow suit.

    These are clearly bad times and the club must move to stop the confusion looming on the horizon.
    Adolf, Kampala Uganda

    It seems to me bully-boy that Ferguson has picked a fight way above his weight-division. Time to eat humble pie because if he does not he will be acting to the detriment of United and its fans by putting his pride before the club.
    Tyrone Reis

    What on earth is going on with the media's fueling of the flames of Fergie's contract and transfer dealings.

    Do people really think he has a say in which agents should be involved and how much to pay them? Come on, it's a bloody business. The plc determine who is involved and how much they get paid - not Ferguson.

    Why are the media not portraying this? Why are they continually saying they are being investigated and will hold up his new contract? As usual they're biased toward a good story - even though this isn't - actually I should say towards creating a good story.

    Fans - see sense and realise this has nothing to do with Fergie's deviousness and everything to do with a media circus - the Magnier debate isn't even worth talking about.
    Rob, Dublin

    I am absolutely appalled that those gigantic egos Magnier & McManus would press this issue at this point in the season when Man Utd are fighting for another treble!

    If there really is an issue, aside from big egos, why not settle it after all competitions have ended. This large distraction can do no good for Ferguson and therefore for the team. What short-sighted idiocy!
    Tom

    Are the two Manchester United shareholders trying to cause some division and strife in the club to effect a lowering in the share price in order to purchase more of the club ? If this is what they are trying to achieve, then the regulatory authorities should be looking at them.

    If however they are doing it to satisfy a personal score with Alex Ferguson, then it is time for these boys to grow up. United is a PLC, tightly governed by share market rules. Most of what the board does has to be fairly transparent as it all gets reported to the Stock Exchange.
    Jim McMullan, New Zealand

    I think Fergie can win this dispute with these Irishmen, but he needs the support of both the fans and the players. For a start players like Van Nistelrooy and Scholes can threaten their departures from the club if Ferguson were ever to step down against his own will.

    Secondly, and most importantly, we all know that money has the final say in this game, and so it is imperative that the IMUSA (the club's supporters association) speak on behalf of ALL United fans threatening a boycott of Old Trafford and an immediate refund of their season tickets in the event of Ferguson's departure.

    Let's see how these 'giants' cope with the club's share price plummeting by a significant percentage - which will surely be the case with the club enveloped in such potential turmoil.

    In fact, having written this e-mail, I'm quite sure these arrogant businessman can be easily defeated, but first (at least some of) these measures must be threatened.
    El-Helw

    The Irish investors have spent the last week dragging the name of United and its most successful ever manager through the dirt. McManus and Magnier have little or no interest in the future of Manchester United, summarised by their attempts to undermine Ferguson's position at the club. It really is a ridiculous situation, but one which will they will not win.
    Richard Selby, Soccernet Manchester United Correspondent

    As a long time shareholder of Manchester United, I support Sir Alex Ferguson. The Irish blokes can get out any time they wish. United were successful before they came, and we will be after they leave.

    I hope the United Board backs Sir Alex. United's success, both on and off the field, depends far more on him than on any other asset the corporation and team have.
    Lee, USA

    Football is a working class sport that has been catapulted into the corporate business world in the last decade. United are the richest Club in the world due to the glory days of the 50's and 60's and primarily, Ferguson's passion and commitment to the Club since 1986.

    The essence of United lies in their vast loyal support which I believe will be firmly behind Ferguson. As much as I despise big business and the characters behind it, United fans have lived in relative harmony with it. For instance the season tickets at Old Trafford are reasonably priced because of the big profits made on Corporate packages.

    What I really want to say is 'Sod off Magnier and McManus.'
    Peter Metcalfe, Muscat, Oman

    I distinctly recall Ferguson rationalizing Beckham's departure for "off field antics" that distracted from the team and player. This while the stud fees dispute was already known. Who is distracting the team and players now? Last year Ferguson could have dropped this issue (he's the one continuing the dispute) and now he may be moved, just as Beckham was. By the way, Beckham seems quite focused on football lately!
    Adrian Ganson, USA

    I am an Irish born supporter of Man Utd since the days of George Best.The current personal feud between Magnier/ McManus and Sir Alex does not help the club one bit.

    Sir Alex Ferguson has done more for Man Utd than Magnier & McManus will ever do in a lifetime. My suggestion to Magnier & McManus is to pack up and p..s off!.
    Brian Mawhinney


  • Also, UEFA will meet to deal with Wales' request to overturn their Euro 2004 play-off defeat against Russia....

    The Wales Football Administration has further shown itself to be unfamiliar with the rules of sportsmanship.

    The association, whose top player Ryan Giggs was pardoned by the Russian FA, (though not by UEFA) after his dirty provocations against Russia's Vadim Evseev, brews scandal once again.

    This time the Wales FA have announced that they will try to take Russia's place in the European Championships because Titov was playing in the 2nd leg (substituted in the 55th minute).

    Even though UEFA will probably dismiss these pitiful attempts it would be very sad if Russia's place in the European finals would be taken by a team who over the first ninety minutes exercised all the dirty tackles possible, and in the 2nd leg did all they could to humiliate their opponents.

    Luckily enough they couldn't do it on the field, as the booing of the Russian anthem was their only feat of the day.
    Igor Pikayzen, Soccernet Russia Correspondent

    I think it's silly of UEFA to even think of entertaining such a childish attempt to claim a Euro 2004 spot. I'm not a Russian or Welsh fan, but if Titov takes a banned substance and is found guilty, he, and not the entire Russia, should be punished.

    Russia outplayed Wales and deserve their spot. Wales shouldn't be a sore loser and be sour towards Russia's achievement. They are being petty about the issue.

    In fact, Titov didn't even play in the first leg and his drug taking has not in anyway helped Russia's cause. Wales should just accept the fact that they missed out on Euro 2004 to a better team.
    KG

    Sour grapes! makes for a Welsh 'whine'. Wales needed to qualify by playing better football not by trying to enter the finals by the back legalistic door.
    Anon

    It will be interesting to see what the head of FIFA has to say, if anything, about this. He was very quick to go after the FA and Man Utd regarding the delay in the Ferdinand hearing.

    Russia should be forced to play the game again. It is only when the National Associations are penalized will we see the drug problem cleaned up.
    James Matthews

    Wales to appeal Russia's Euro place! What a joke! Wales should shut up and start planning holidays!

    Does that mean Turkey should Take England's place? After all Rio was found guilty!
    Anthony

    I'm giving my support to the Welsh FA for contesting Russia's Euro place. I'm a fan of Ryan Giggs, and would like to see him in a major competition.

    Although some people might think that this not a good way to get into Euro 2004, but using banned substance is worse.
    DK


  • Also, Arsene Wenger fears Robert Pires is becoming a marked man by referees because of his reputation for diving. ....

    So now, amazingly, Arsene is able to see incidents! Well that's great that his vision has returned to normal. Unfortunately it is obvious to everyone else who watches Pires play, that he goes down quicker than a hooker at Kings Cross (apparently).

    I'm sure he does have a reputation for diving but that is nobody's fault but his own. Quite amusing that Wenger thinks this stemmed from the Portsmouth game - Pires has been widely criticised for diving since his arrival in England.

    It is a shame that a player of his obvious and immense ability resorts to this on a regular basis. Worse is that Wenger goes on the offensive for him, let alone defends him.
    Richard Clark

    I believe Pires is being harshly treated. Many other players do similar sort of actions and although this can't be condonned, Pires is not an exclusive case ie: Mr Nistelrooy. Yes Pires does go to ground a little easier than I would like but he never complains when decisions don't go his way. Lets be objective if you want to criticise players who dive then name and shame them all not just one individual.
    Bob Barrett

    If Pires has the reputation of being a "diver" then it is justly deserved, he goes to ground in the box at every opportunity trying to get an penalty. If this practice is now coming back to haunt him (and Arsenal) then it serves him (and Arsenal) right as this practice is one of the worst things in football today.

    It seems that a lot of clubs these days have a win at any cost approach towards the sport, if we can still call it sport given the obscene amounts of money involved nowadays, but this is one practice that needs to be stamped out and the sooner the better as it is most sportsmanlike.
    Mark Maupin, Western Australia

    Boo Hoo Robert Pires. He has done more diving (or simulation, in FIFA parlance) than anyone else I've seen the past few years - and the refs know it.

    He's made his bed, and now has to dive into it.
    Michael, Sydney


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