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Liverpool have become successful again at the wrong moment, unlike United  

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“Becoming a PLC meant we were always in play, that’s a good way of putting it,” Maurice Watkins told me at his offices near Albert Square in Manchester city centre four years ago.

Watkins had been a director on Manchester United’s board during the 1990s, the decade when that club emerged as a global football powerhouse.

Ultimately, the whole thing had only been possible, he said, because of the decision in 1991 to float on the stock exchange.

When Malcolm Glazer began his purchase of the club 12 years later, indeed, demonstrators warned him United were “not for sale” but, as Watkins seemed reluctant to admit, the opposite had always been the reality.

The willingness among fans and canny watchers of finance to buy shares in the first place, and therefore create the economic base to develop Old Trafford, meant United were effectively up for sale every single day until Glazer finally got his hands on them in...
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