Malcolm Glazer, the self-made billionaire who led the takeover of English soccer's Manchester United and owned the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has died. He was 85.

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 purchase of Manchester United that was bitterly opposed by fans of one of the world's richest soccer clubs.

Glazer's growing business portfolio
  • 1928: Born to a Lithuanian family which emigrated to the United States and grew up in Rochester, New York State
  • 1943: First cuts his teeth in business via the family's store, selling watch parts following the death of his father
  • 1989: Having transformed his small inheritance into a growing business empire, attempt to buy motorcycle firm Harley-Davidson ends in failure
  • 1995: Pays $192m for Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL team
  • 2003: Buccaneers win the Super Bowl and Glazer buys first shares in Manchester United
  • 2005: Glazer family complete controversial £790m takeover at Old Trafford - yet a large part of that sum is borrowed, prompting protests from fans

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 August 25, 1928, New York, the son of a watch-parts salesman, Glazer began working for the family business when he was eight and took over the operation as a teenager when his father died in 1943.

Forbes ranked him, along with his family, as tied for number 354 on the world's richest people list with a net worth at an estimated $4.2 billion.

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.

"With our major investment here, we didn't come in here to have a loser," Glazer said after acquiring the Bucs.

Bold Bucs move

In one of its boldest moves as NFL owners, the Glazer family fired Tony Dungy as coach after the 2001 season and paid a hefty price - four draft picks and $8 million cash - to the Raiders for the opportunity to sign Jon Gruden to a contract.

The move paid off right away. Gruden led the Bucs to their first NFL title the following season, and Glazer joined in the celebration in the locker room.

The family did not get a warm reception in the United Kingdom, where Man U fans protested and burned Glazer's likeness in effigy because they feared the American was acquiring the storied British soccer franchise purely for financial gain.

But the club had success on the pitch, winning the League Cup in 2006, 2009 and 2010, the English Premier League from 2007-09, 2011 and 2013 and European Cup and Club World Cup titles in 2008. But the team has been saddled with debt.

Since 2005, more than $1.1 billion has been spent servicing the club's debt, which is currently around $600 million.

Despite their worst league finish in 24 years, United have been generating record revenue, each quarter, with turnover set to exceed $700 million in the 2013-14 financial year.

Glazer is survived by his wife Linda, his six children and 14 grandchildren.

Source: AP