Supporters of soccer club Manchester United have laid the blame for their team's miserable year, which culminated in the ouster of its manager this week, at the feet of its U.S. owners.
The Glazer family, who also own NFL football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, acquired a majority stake in the iconic club in 2005 with a $1.47 billion leveraged takeover. Controversially loading the club with debt, fans have openly criticized the lack of investment in new players and have lamented the rise of rivals that have managed to outspend their club.
Years of revolt from many fans has often culminated in a public displays of anger with Tuesday's announcement providing another moment for these fans to get their point across. The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) - an independent group that boasts over 200,000 members - has called for a change in the current ownership model.
"The club can only spend money that it has and, unfortunately, the club's owners have spent hundreds of millions of the club's money on financial restructuring and debt payments," Duncan Drasdo, MUST's chief executive said in a press release on Tuesday evening.
Manchester United reported a gross debt of £389.2 million ($654 million) in its last full financial year. Operating revenues - from its core activities - totaled £129.9 million, with £73 million of this used on interest payments.
The soccer club, the most-supported in the world – enjoyed unparalleled success during the 1990s and 2000s with former manager Alex Ferguson becoming the most decorated manager in the sport. His retirement last May coincided with the appointment of David Moyes, who was relatively inexperienced with regards to the most lucrative European tournaments that harvest the most revenues.
Moyes' tenure came to an end earlier this week with the club looking to finish in a lowly seventh place in the U.K. Premier League. But even if Moyes could be to blame for the short term decline in the club's fortunes, MUST believe any longer-term decline would be down to its American owners.
Financial analyst Louise Cooper, founder of CooperCity, said the question would now arise as to whether the role of manager was a "poisoned chalice."
"This is a highly indebted firm which leaves little financial room for disappointment. Frankly the Glazers could not afford to wait for Moyes to step up to the job," she said in a research note on Tuesday.
"The financials ensured that Moyes was not given the time to perform."
Manchester United were not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC on Wednesday.
MUST has drawn comparisons with the fortunes of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which has seen results slide in results after winning the Super Bowl in 2002, with fans also bemoaning a lack of investment.
"The Glazers record of appointments at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is truly awful so it should come as no great surprise to see the same pattern emerge at Manchester United once the shield of Sir Alex Ferguson is no longer there to protect them," Drasdo said.
New York-listed shares of Manchester climb around 6 percent on Tuesday after news of Moyes' departure. Shares have risen 22 percent this year to $22.43 with investors pricing in a change in management at the club.