Earlier this week Manchester United’s loathsome owners released their accounts to reveal a £108.9m loss in last year. That’s £108.9m that Manchester United has paid for the privilege of having Malcolm Glazer and his spawn own our football club.
Last year the club was able to wave the accounts around almost gleefully, because they showed that Red Football (United’s holding company) had made a profit of £21m. They declined to mention that if it hadn’t been for the sale of the player some would argue is the best footballer on the planet the balance sheet would have read -£59m, but that was last year, time keeps ticking and so unfortunately does the debt-clock.
This year’s spin of ‘at least the PIK debt has been paid off’ raises further questions for the worried supporter. Questions like, “Where did you find the £240m+ to do so?” and “Why should that even bother us, after we’ve been told all along that the debt was solely the responsibility of the Glazer family?”
Unless Uncle Malcolm got lucky and found a goldmine hidden in the cracks of his orthopaedic bed, chances are that the money found to pay off the “personal” Glazer loan came from United’s own cash stream. We are none the wiser about how the PIK debt was financed, but with just a fraction of a fraction of a percentage of new shares issued, anyone holding out hope for it being a cash-rich investor will be more than likely end up disappointed.
There’s a feeling that United’s owners are hanging on until the end of the campaign to release any news regarding the payment of the PIKs in case they can slip it out amidst potential trophy celebrations come May time. It wouldn’t be the first time that, that’s happened and it certainly won’t be the last. It’s not exclusive to the Glazer’s either, but cast your mind back to 2008 and when United had just reached the final of the Champions League. The morning after the club released a statement that ticket prices would be increasing for the following season, despite almost every other club freezing or dropping prices because of the economic downturn.
While some may deride the Green and Gold campaign of last year it was successful in highlighting to a widespread audience just how bad for the football club the Glazer family are. Some may say that if people weren’t aware already then their acknowledgement doesn’t even matter, but by bringing it to the forefront of people’s minds it united the supporters for the very first time since the takeover.
Nowadays the Green and Gold is mostly adorned as a fashion accessory over the top of a brand new replica shirt as the person going into the ground will most likely be replacing someone who wore the colours with pride last-season before waving farewell to Old Trafford until the Glazer family have gone.
I’m one of them. While I was always aware of what was going on behind the scenes and understood the level of debt that was crippling the club I just couldn’t stop going to watch. That changed last year because I knew the only way in which I could make a full stand against the leeches that own Manchester United was to never give them another penny. Decline in atmosphere or not, it’s awful being a 21-year-old and not being able to go and support the shirts I adore. It could be argued that I still have the choice and that I’m always able to go back, but that just isn’t the case because I know in doing so I’m funding the very thing that I’m most against.
No-one should have a problem with people still wanting to watch United and anyone who still does obviously finds it too much of a wrench to stop going and their decision has to be respected. What can’t be respected however is anyone who vocally opposes the regime still attending games. You can’t have it both ways and by renewing their season ticket last year, lost all rights they had to credibly oppose the Glazer family’s ownership of the club. People who sit by silently accepting the state the club is in may well be the scapegoats, at least they aren’t hypocrites.
The family who claimed that the Green and Gold campaign hadn’t affected Manchester United in any business sense this morning revealed that they are suing the anti-Glazer protester who published the names and addresses of the club’s corporate clients for “damaging the business”. This is the same business who responded to the corporate clients nonchalantly when they inquired as to what was going on. The same business who didn’t even so much as apologise for the leaking of the list to their clients is now seeking monetary gain for “damages and losses”.
Things that contributed to the £108.9m of losses were a £64.7m fee to set up last January’s bond and £32m towards paying off interest on the Glazer’s ‘personal’ PIK debt. That money could’ve been used to strengthen the first-team squad, to buy chunks of tickets to give out to local schools or to allow for a reduction in season ticket prices. Instead that went towards easing the Glazer’s financial troubles and paying off absolutely none of the debt United’s owners saddled the club with – which incidentally stands at around £700m.
The Premier League’s record loss stands at £125m and was recorded by Chelsea. That season Chelsea spent money on Paulo Ferreira, Arjen Robben, Petr Cech, Claude Makelele, Hernan Crespo, Adrian Mutu, Joe Cole and Juan Sebastian Veron amongst others and went on to win their first league title for 50 years. The summer United recorded the second biggest loss they signed Javier Hernanadez, Chris Smalling and Bebe, which coupled with players sold amounted to approximately £10m spent improving the squad.
While it’s nice seeing players signed for a relatively small fee being successful at the club, imagine how strong United would look going into the final few months of the season if the money lost had been invested in the team. Mesut Ozil for example would have undoubtedly improved the team and went to Real Madrid for around £5m more than United paid for Bebe, a player who’s appeared seven times for the first-team, a player who Sir Alex Ferguson had never seen play, a player who doesn’t appear to even be a football player. So much for there being “no value” in the transfer market.
Either way, David Gill and even one of the elusive Glazer clan, Joel have come out and said that United have £165m cash in the bank and it’s ready to be spent as and when Sir Alex Ferguson wants to. You’ll have to forgive me for not holding my breath.