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Manchester United is officially the football club with the largest number of supporters in the world, and with the highest average number of spectators per home game. Following on from that, the club is one of the richest and most valuable football clubs on the planet. Estimates of the value of the club range from £1.1 to 1.6 billion. Both in the past and present, Manchester United has had many big-name players at the club. In recent history players have included Eric Cantona, Peter Schmeichel, Paul Scholes, the Neville Brothers and Christiano Ronaldo, all well-known faces of the club. Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed the trainer and manager of Manchester United in 1986. He brought the club great success after a long stagnant period. After nearly getting fired because of his disappointing performance in the season 1989-90, Ferguson won the FA Cup with United in 1990 and was therefore able to stay on. Alex Ferguson in his lounge Subsequently, Man U won the European Cup and then the European Supercup. In 1993, United became champions for the first time since 1967 and the following year they achieved the 'double' - the FA Cup and the Premier League. The 1998-99 season was the most successful season in the history of Manchester United when they achieved 'the treble', becoming the winners of the Premier League, FA Cup and the Champions League. That year, the final of the Champions League was one of the most historic games ever. United trailed 1-0 at the start of injury time. They scored two goals in injury time from Sheringham and Solskjaer, ensuring a dramatic finish to the match, which was against Bayern Munich. In subsequent years, Manchester has won the national title several times and they also won the Champions League in 2008 by defeating Chelsea in the final on penalties. The present owner of the club is the American, Malcolm Glazer, who in 2005 became sole owner. Many Manchester United fans were against this acquisition. Following the deal, the loans that Glazer had entered into to buy the club were transferred into the name of Manchester United, thus turning the once debt-free club into a club with huge debts. Also, prices of the tickets were raised considerably. There have been several protests against the current state of affairs in and around the club. One of the most striking and noticeable protests was the wearing of green-yellow (officially green-gold) scarves by the supporters as a sign of their displeasure. Manchester United Club History Manchester United was founded in 1878 by the employees of the local branch of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. The team played in the colours of the train company, green and gold, for the first few years. It was known as the Newton Heath LYR Football Club and it played mainly against other departments of the same or other train companies. After several years, the club became independent and the team played in a newly formed Football League. In 1902 it changed its name to Manchester United FC. Manchester United FC. The team played initially in the Second Division but were promoted to the First Division in 1906. In 1908 they won their first league title, winning the First Division, the current Premier League. The following year they won the FA Cup for the first time. In 1911 they were the First Division champions again. In the period between the First and Second World Wars, Manchester United was relegated and promoted twice and the club also failed to win any big prizes. In 1931, the club almost went bankrupt. In the years after World War II, Matt Busby took charge of the team and demanded control over team selection, player transfers and training. He led the team to take second place several times in the First Division and in 1948 they won the FA Cup. In 1953, for the first time in years, they again won the First Division. The average age of the team then was about 22 years. This led to the team nickname ‘The Busby Babes'. Manchester United was the first team to get permission from the union to participate in the European Cup. In 1958, on the way home after their victory in the quarterfinals against Red Star Belgrade, the plane with the players and officials of Manchester United crashed shortly after takeoff from Munich Airport after having refueled there. In the tragic accident 23 people lost their life, including eight players of Manchester United. Several people were injured. This accident is to this day still commemorated each year in the stadium. Matt Busby was among the wounded and had to relinquish the lead to his assistants. Once recovered, he began to rebuild his team by signing older players to combine with the next generation of youth players. He attracted many top players, including the legendary George Best. The team went on to win the FA Cup in 1963, and they won the Championship again in 1965 and 1967. In 1968 Manchester was the first English club to win the European Cup, defeating Benfica 4-1, in the finals. Matt Busby with European Cup, 1968 The major players at that time were George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton. After disappointing performances in the season after, Matt Busby was dismissed and after that the best players of Manchester United left as well. During the period until Alex Ferguson came to power in 1986, there were no more championships achieved despite the occasional big players, such as Bryan Robson. Under Tommy Docherty they reached the FA Cup Final in 1976 but lost to Southampton. However, United went on to win the FA Cup three times, in 1977, 1983 and 1985.