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Talk of the bay

Glazer stake isn't the first Man U upset

Published May 16, 2005

Malcolm Glazer's purchase of a majority stake in Manchester United has the British soccer club's zealous fans reeling.

It's not the first time the bay area has run roughshod over the Red Devils, however.

In a May 1978 exhibition game before 15,325 fans at the old Tampa Stadium, the now-defunct Tampa Bay Rowdies shocked visiting Manchester by pulling off a 2-1 victory. Even Rowdies coach Gordon Jago called the win unlikely, saying his team couldn't possibly compete in the English league's top division.

In post-game interviews with the St. Petersburg Times, Red Devils players were asked how they would explain the loss to the fans back home.

One cited the hot weather. Another complained Manchester had only one day's rest after its trans-Atlantic flight. The noisy public-address system - at the time, speakers were shut off during play in Great Britain - also was raised.

Coming up with a similar excuse for the team's sale to Glazer, 76, won't be as easy. There's no shortage of British billionaires rich enough to have engaged Glazer in a bidding war and shrewd enough to become the "white knight." And Manchester shareholders, including some of the team's board members, certainly didn't have to sell their stock during Glazer's two-year runup.

The profits must have been irresistible. The value of Manchester's stock has nearly tripled during that time.

[Last modified May 14, 2005, 00:54:02]

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