James Gibson: The man who saved Manchester United — twice



Air-raid sirens haunted the night sky. It was March 11 1941 and the Luftwaffe was on the attack. There was fear, panic, death and ruin.

The northern English town of Manchester was under siege; Old Trafford was under siege.

With each bomb that fell upon the old stadium — home to one of the world’s most iconic clubs Manchester Untied — a piece of James Gibson’s heart was shattered.

The man who had built United up from financial ruin was left facing the destruction of a decade of hard work.

The grandstand was obliterated, the stadium left for ruin like an ancient battleground. This was not the Theatre of Dreams, but the Theatre of Shattered Dreams.

Dying embers

Mention United and talk inevitably turns to the club’s £1.4 billion value, the longevity of its remarkable manager Alex Ferguson, players like Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie, or their American owners — the Glazers.

But if it had not been for Gibson, it is unlikely there would be the United we know today.

There would be no 19 league titles or three European Cups. The likes of George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton would never have pulled on the red and white.

The “Busby Babes” would have never existed.

The youth set-up, which produced such gems as Duncan Edwards, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham, would never have come to fruition.

The rivalry between United and Sunday’s opponent Liverpool would never have been fashioned.

The Gibson Guarantee’

Even by the times the Lutfwaffe flew over Manchester, Gibson had already resuscitated an ailing giant.

It was on December 19th 1931 that Gibson took on a club crippled by debt and financial neglect after the the Wall Street Crash and the death of a benefactor had left United on the brink of collapse.

On that fateful day, Walter Crickmer, the club secretary, went cap in hand to Gibson, a man who had made his money supplying uniforms for tram workers.

An avid football fan, Gibson handed over $165,000 in today’s money, allowing the club to appease its debtors, pay staff and players and provide a large Christmas Turkey for families of employees.

It was to go down in history as “the Gibson Guarantee”.

Read the complete CNN Article by James Masters.

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