Joel Glazer has conceded Manchester United’s owning family have given fans the impression they do not care about the club.
The United executive vice-chairman made the admission in a two-hour meeting with the club’s Fans’ Forum earlier this month, the minutes of which have now been published.
The meeting was arranged after United’s involvement in the short-lived and controversial breakaway European Super League project last month sparked a fresh wave of protests against the Glazer family.
The Glazers, who have owned United since 2005, have now promised to communicate better with supporters, among whom they have always been unpopular, and Joel Glazer insists they do love the club.
“We always took the approach that we should stay in the background – let the manager, the players, the people at Old Trafford, be the ones out in front, communicating and talking,” said Glazer, who was told by one fan the club had become a “laughing stock”.
“In retrospect, that was not the right approach and there’s a middle ground. Our silence wrongly created the impression that we don’t care, that we aren’t football fans, that we only care about our commercial interests and money. I can assure you nothing could be further from the truth.”
Glazer claimed that “not a day has gone by” over the past 16 years when he had not woken up “feeling the weight and responsibility of continuing the traditions of this club”.
He added: “Unfortunately, that hasn’t been communicated properly.
“I may not live in Manchester and be fortunate enough to be at Old Trafford every week but, like the hundreds of millions of supporters we have around the world, I watch every match.
“I can’t wait for every match, I enjoy the thrill of every goal and I feel the utmost agony of every defeat.”
Glazer set out plans to create a new Fan Advisory Board which would consult with the club’s senior leadership on a regular basis. Discussions with the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust over a proposed fan share ownership scheme would also be stepped up.
“With these two initiatives, which would just be the beginning, we feel we can reset the relationship with our supporters, strengthen the club as a whole and do bigger and better things,” Glazer said.
Glazer also said he was well aware of the strong criticism aimed at the owning family from the likes of Gary Neville, the former United and England defender who is now a prominent and influential media pundit.
Glazer said: “I know Gary has been, to say the least, pretty hard on us, and it’s OK. Everybody has their views.
“There’s two ways to look at it – you can just shut the person out because they’re not saying something nice about you and ignore it. Or you can pause, you can listen.
“People always have good points, good ideas and you have to take them to heart. You can’t ignore people. We can’t ignore things, we have got to listen.
“You can’t necessarily accomplish everything, it’s not always that simple. Sometimes things are a little more complex, but Gary’s a legend. Gary did so much for this club. Gary has good ideas, good thoughts, and they’re heard.”