June 15, 2015 / 5:26 AM / 3 years ago

The Glazers’ Way: Loyal, low key, few frills in running Manchester United

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK (Reuters) - The First Allied building at 270 Commerce Drive in the Rochester, New York, suburb of Henrietta isn’t much to look at.

​It’s a one-storey building, ​standard issue, in an industrial-area bottomland prone to flooding, with such neighbors as a

​hazardous waste site and a Chinese food wholesaler.

But it has a story to tell. It’s the de facto headquarters of the Glazer family, which controls the Manchester United football club, among the most valuable franchises in global sport, as well as the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Inside are photographs and memorabilia of the players - the only clue that the operators of First Allied are more than local types in, say, the plumbing-supply business.

There’s also a receptionist who politely says there’s no one around to talk about the six siblings of Malcolm Glazer, the founder of the real estate and sports empire who had a debilitating stroke in 2006 and died last year.

    That sums them up: Low profile and, in the case of this article and just about every other piece ever written about them, no comment. 

They are disciplined in their aversion to the media and seemingly immune to vicious criticism from Manchester United fans. The family is also comfortable sharing jobs and having no sibling in charge.

    And they are intensely loyal to each other, according to those who have worked with them over the years. Although scattered across the country, four of the siblings still keep houses on the same block in a Rochester suburb, records examined by Reuters show.

    Malcolm Glazer began his career in Rochester at the family’s watch-repair company. He expanded into real estate and other businesses. There were also moves into oil and gas, fish proteins and technology along the way. The biggest assets now, apart from the sports teams, are the 61 shopping centers in 18 states owned by First Allied.

    The Glazers control their businesses through multiple partnerships and holding companies. The responsibilities are shared and overlapping. Avram and Joel are executive co-chairmen of United. Joel, Bryan and Edward are the Bucs’ co-chairmen. Edward and Darcie Glazer Kassewitz are co-presidents of the Glazer Family Foundation. Kevin and Edward are both co-chairmen of First Allied.

    All the siblings are also directors of Manchester United, and they are equal partners in Red Football LLC, whose address is the First Allied building, and which now controls 84 percent of United’s voting power. Their stake is worth about $2.2 billion (1.4 billion pounds).

Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice chairman, and Joel Glazer speak every day, sources close to United say.

Edward, the youngest brother, devotes much of his time to marketing and managing the ​Bucs fan experience, including the 2012 creation of a department to look after the needs of season-ticket holders. 

He lives furthest away, in Los Angeles, where his wife, Shari, was raised. “Despite geography,” said one former employee. “He makes up for it in hustle. He’s very passionate and meticulous ... if you get an email at three in the morning, 99 percent of the time it’s from Ed.”

    One of the great mysteries is how six siblings manage to run such an eclectic and complex enterprise without a single family-member in charge.

    George Allen, former Bucs general manager and now general manager with the Washington Redskins pro-football club, said Malcolm insisted that children learn to cooperate. “It’s the way they were raised. Everyone is in charge,” Allen told Reuters. “I think they are interchangeable to a certain degree.”

Ronde Barber, who played with the Bucs and is now a Fox broadcaster, said Edward, Joel and Bryan often start from different points but end up at the same place. “The better way to describe it is three parts of one decision,” he said.

Reporting by Ken Otterbourg; With reporting by Neil Maidment; Editing by Martin Howell

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