TAMPA - Malcolm Glazer, the controversial American owner of English Premier League giants Manchester United, died Wednesday. He was 85.
Glazer - the son of a Lithuanian immigrant who went on to build an diverse business empire - gained a global profile through his ownership of United, one of the world's biggest and best supported football clubs.
But he was deeply unpopular with hardcore United fans after loading the club with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt following a 2005 buyout.
His death was announced on the website of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers American football team, one of his other sports franchises.
"The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are saddened to announce the passing of Owner/President Malcolm Glazer earlier this morning at the age of 85," the statement said.
"A dynamic business leader, Glazer helped mould the Buccaneers into a model franchise and one respected league-wide." Under Glazer's stewardship of the Buccaneers, the NFL team enjoyed its first Super Bowl success in 2002.
"Malcolm Glazer was the guiding force behind the building of a Super Bowl-champion organisation," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday.
Shares of Manchester United slipped sharply on the New York Stock Exchange after Glazer's death was announced but finished the day unchanged in thin trade at US$16.30 (S$20.47).
Glazer's death is not expected to have any bearing on the ownership of the club, with his family retaining a 90 per cent holding in United.
His sons Joel and Avram Glazer continue to serve as co-chairmen of the club. Another son, Bryan, remains on the United board.
"The thoughts of everyone at Manchester United are with his family tonight," the Premier League club said Wednesday.