TAMPA, Fla. — Malcolm Glazer, the self-made billionaire who led the takeover of English football’s Manchester United and owned the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has died. He was 85.
The Bucs said Glazer died Wednesday.
The reclusive Palm Beach businessman had been in failing health since April 2006 when a pair of strokes left him with impaired speech and limited mobility in his right arm and leg.
Glazer raised his profile in 2005 with a $1.47 billion takeover of Manchester United that was bitterly opposed by fans of one of the world’s richest football clubs. Before that, his unobtrusive management style helped transform the Bucs from a laughingstock into a model franchise that in 2003 won the Super Bowl 48-21 over the Oakland Raiders.
The thoughts of everyone at Manchester United are with the family tonight,” Manchester United said in a statement
Born Aug. 25, 1928, in Rochester, New York, the son of a watch-parts salesman, Glazer began working for the family business when he was 8 and took over the operation as a teenager when his father died in 1943.
As president and CEO of First Allied Corp., the holding company for the family business interests, he invested in mobile-home parks, restaurants, food service equipment, marine protein, television stations, real estate, natural gas and oil production and other ventures. In March 2010, Forbes ranked him as tied for the world’s 400th richest person, estimating his net worth at $2.4 billion. The magazine’s separate ranking of Americans put him and his family at 139th in fall 2008.
He purchased the Bucs for a then-NFL record $192 million in 1995, taking over one of the worst-run and least successful franchises in professional sports. And while Glazer once said he probably overpaid by $50 million, the value of the team has more than quadrupled since he assumed control.
In an era when many owners of professional teams attract nearly as much attention as the athletes, Glazer was content to allow three of his sons handle daily operation of the Bucs and rarely granted interviews or visited the team’s offices and training facility.
But he was a fixture at games before his health became an issue, and he spent generously to acquire players and provide coaches and front office personnel with the resources to do their jobs. To fans accustomed to the frugal ways of original Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse, Glazer was a savior.
“With our major investment here, we didn’t come in here to have a loser,” Glazer said after acquiring the Bucs.
As Bucs owner, he was one of the driving forces behind construction of a state-of-the-art stadium built mostly with taxpayer money and also sank millions of his own into a new training facility and team headquarters that opened in August 2006.
Glazer is survived by his wife Linda, six children and 14 grandchildren.