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The balance of power in English soccer has shifted from one famous U.S.-owned club to another, with Liverpool on course to win the league for the first time in 24 years while rivals Manchester United are in disarray and seeking a new manager.
The Glazer family who own United showed their ruthless streak on Tuesday when they sacked manager David Moyes after less than one season in the job.
David Moyes inherited a Premier League-winning team from Alex Ferguson last year but a dismal campaign means Manchester United will miss out on a place in the UEFA Champions League - Europe's top club competition - next season for the first time since 1995.
Failing to qualify will cost United upwards of 30 million pounds ($50 million) next year but the Glazers will have been prompted to act by fears of a long barren streak of the kind from which Liverpool are emerging.
United shares, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange, were up more than 6.5 percent at $18.90 at 1720 GMT, signalling investor relief at the decision to sack Moyes.
Liverpool dominated English soccer in the 1980s before Ferguson came along to, in his own words, "knock them off their perch" and the Scotsman led United to the Premier League 13 times in little over two decades.
United fans delight in pointing out they have won the league title 20 times, eclipsing Liverpool's old record of 18 titles.
The two clubs, both based in traditionally working-class cities in northwest England, have long been part of the elite of English soccer.
As such, both have attracted American investment over the past decade as the global popularity of the Premier League drew in foreign capital.
The Glazers, who own the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bought United for 790 million pounds in 2005 in a deal that has long irked fans who are angry at the way it saddled the club with debt.
"The club's owners have spent hundreds of millions of the club's money on financial restructuring and debt payments and this has limited funds available for investment in the playing squad," said Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of the Manchester United Supporters Trust, a group campaigning for greater fan involvement in the club ownership.
Liverpool fans have a more benign view of John W. Henry, who took over their club in 2010 in a 300 million pound deal after an earlier American buyout proved unsuccessful.
Henry is on course to complete