On the 52nd anniversary of the Munich air crash Manchester United’s owners failed to turn up at Old Trafford, choosing instead to employ rough tactics on protesting supporters as the anti-Glazer revolution spreads. Not for the first time Stewards ripped banners from the Stretford End and supporters wearing the colours of protest were barred entry to executive areas.
The self-styled ‘Theatre of Dreams’ is rapidly becoming a sea of green and gold as the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) distributed 70,000 fliers and additional scarves before the Old Trafford tie with Portsmouth on Saturday.
With MUST membership now topping 45,000 the tipping point in this revolution has come. Not this time will supporters’ protests fade into apathy.
It’s not a fact that the club’s management has yet accepted with Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill attempting to head off the protests at the path by erroneously calling on fans to “support the club” in recent weeks. Gill would say that, his remuneration has increased by 60 per cent in two years to more than £1.8 million, while squeezing the fans for ever more in ticket prices.
Inside the stadium a chorus of “we want Glazer out” and “love United, hate Glazer” dominated for the duration, save the minute’s silence respectfully held prior to kick off. And at the Stretford End supporters unfurled another huge ‘Glazer Out, LUHG’ banner before stewards forcibly removed both the statement and protester.
Anecdotal evidence also points to fans being forced to remove green and gold scarves before entering ‘box’ areas and stewards bent on silencing Glazers’ critics in the stands.
“Predictably, once again a club steward was caught by the media telling a supporter to put down his Green and Gold club colours. But again the act backfired as Radio 5 Live’s presenter conveyed the act to tens of millions of fans listening around the world,” reports the excellent United blog, A Kick in the Grass.
It’s a shame then that the BBC gave a voice to Gill’s lies on its Football Focus programme last weekend, while overtly editing any of the green and gold protest out of its Match of the Day highlights on Saturday night.
But there is a growing feeling that the current wave of protests is merely the start of a war that leads to the Glazer family’s demise as club owners. After all, if the family is unwilling to face supporters in Manchester, then they surely will feel the financial pinch if plans for a widespread season ticket boycott come to fruition.
“It is only now, after the true state was laid bare in the prospectus to raise the £500m bond, that the fans have taken the veil from their eyes,” Andy Walsh, chairmen of red rebel club FC United of Manchester told the Daily Mail.
“We’ve had many people apologising to us. There is a plan to step up the campaign and hitting the Glazers in the pocket as the next phase.
“The green and gold campaign has focused people’s attention but there is an understanding it won’t work on its own. A boycott will hit the Glazers because their business plan relied on them cranking up ticket prices and extracting more cash from supporters.”
Boycott, of course, is an emotive subject; perhaps the greatest sacrifice a supporter can make. But with the financial pinch hitting home hard the club has already lost a net 65,000 season ticket holders in the past year. Further ticket rises are likely when the club announces prices for the 2010/2011 season in the coming weeks.
Even should the club “placate the fans” as one national newspapers suggested last week, there is a growing realisation that the only way supporters can force a change of ownership in the medium term is to undermine the Glazer family’s business model.
24 thoughts on “Glazers turn on fans as call for boycott grows”
WE WANT GLAZERS OUT!
good read, thank you 🙂
Pompey fans were magnificent on the day as the silence was observed with respect… But the stewards at Old Trafford were a disgrace as always…. One fan was had a go at for raising a green and gold scarf during the minutes silence…. We all saw it…. And even those who pay for top exec seats were refused entry by these thugs, until their ‘offensive’ green and gold items were removed… This is absolutely shameful… What is this, a football club or a fascist regime? Mind you, with right-wing capitaliss like the Glazers in charge, what can you expect? But if they (and their lapdog thugs) think they are going to stop us, then they are mistaken….
The Flowers of Manchester…. Never to be forgotten…..
A boycott would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. It would damage the club in the short term and there’s no guarantee that any future owner the Glazers sold to would be better. Anyone running the club purely as a business is going to do just what the Glazers are doing – keep ticket prices high, spend the minimum necessary to stay successful on the pitch and pocket what’s left over. Would we then boycott the new owners too? Where does it end?
Bankruptcy, probably. I know there are some fanatics who want to see the club destroyed so a new one owned by the fans can rise from the ashes, even if it takes decades. I suggest they go and support FC United.
The ideal solution is to have the club owned by United fans who aren’t in it to make money. Maybe Keith Harris and his “red knights” can arrange something. But Boycotts aren’t going to make this outcome any more likely.
This has gone on for too long. Most people don’t have a clue what debt means. Any Red Knight would have to incur debt to be able to take over. Just because the debt isn’t in the books of the club doesn’t mean it’s not there.
So the real question is what type of owner we would want. A business oriented type of owner will guarantee that the club has a sustainable operating profit.
If the fans or benevolent rich people take over, we will run the risk of people fighting politically or taking unnecessary financial risks. This is what happened to Leeds, not what the Glazer’s are doing.
Of course, the current debt/equity ratio is higher than I would prefer, but it’s not feasible to run a club without debt these days. At least not a club with the value of Man Utd.
What I hope for, because I do think the Glazer’s will leave soon because of the protests, is that the new owners continue to run the club from a financial pov, but leave footballing matters to footballers.
Imagine what would happen if we had fans running the club and sacking board after board, manager after manager etc.
Do you really think that Fergie had survived going out of CL in 2005 with a board elected by the fans?
It’s easy to call for an exit for the Glazer’s but it’s harder to see what the alternatives are. I think this is a knee-jerk reaction, triggered by the media and by the fact that financial matters are more complicated than you think.
“Just because the debt isn’t in the books of the club doesn’t mean it’s not there.”
What on earth is that supposed to mean? Do you actually know what a balance sheet is?
“it’s not feasible to run a club without debt these days. At least not a club with the value of Man Utd.”
Again, this is nonsense. Manchester United is the most operationally profitable club in Europe. The only reason we have debt is because the current owners did not have the wherewithal to buy the club outright. The club had NO debt in 2005 and would have none today if not for the leveraged buyout.
If anyone is showing a lack of financial insight my friend, it’s you!
I know perfectly well what a balance sheet is, my friend. My point is that it is going to be hard for anyone to raise the cash needed to buy the club, without taking a loan.
Now, regardless if the loan is on the books of the club or in the books of the (new) owner there is going to be interest that has to be serviced.
If the debt is within the club itself, the interest is going to show in the books of the club, as a pre tax cost. If the debt is with the owner, there are several options to service the interest, one of them being paying dividends to the owner.
Nonetheless, only an owner that is ready to pay the interest each year, without any return from the club, will make Man Utd seem like it has no financial obligations.
The reason the Glazers bought Man United is precisely because it was not valued properly by the markets. This is because the club was not run properly financially, did not realise its full financial potential or a combination of the two.
They did have the means but most people don’t have the CASH necessary to buy a club like Man Utd. That’s one of the reasons why you use a leveraged buy out.
Another reasons is that it makes sense, from a financial pov, because if you were to finance a take over with your own equity, the return on your investment would have to be much greater.
With all the sheiks and super-rich russians buying clubs, left, right and centre, we need to be strong financially. This leads us to the much more interesting question: what type of ownership will guarantee us the financial success we need to be able to afford players in the future?
Abramovich runs Chelsea at a loss each year. The second he leaves they will perish. Barca and RM have banks and local government to support them financially, by handing out loans they will never have to pay.
If the fans were to take over, how do we solve decision-making, politically?
The parasites must be removbed from our club. The answer is as follows:
1. The Red Knights take over the club, using as much debt as required:
2. 25% of the club is moved into a supporters’ trust, on condition that it can never be sold out, and that the trust shall always have 25% of the vote;
3. The remaining 75% is taken public, with the proceeds used to repay the Red Knights’ debt, and, probably, pay them a tidy profit for a rather quick chain of events.
Spot on with your comments james 0903 about yergen who is also talking nonsense when he says:
“If the fans or benevolent rich people take over, we will run the risk of people fighting politically or taking unnecessary financial risks. This is what happened to Leeds, not what the Glazer’s are doing.”
1. any group taking over will appoint a board/manager to run the club on a day to day basis.
2. If anyone is taking unnecessary financial risks it is the Glazers who acquired the club without being able to afford it and so lumped all the debt onto the club.
Yergen – we were a profitble PLC without significant debt and a reasonble dividend. The rest of the profits were plough back into the team and 20 years of unprecedent success.
Debt is not a requirement for a successful business or football club.
Just wanted to share with you this exchange between me and Gabrielle Marcotti Sports Journo of the Times today.
Hi Gab, What do you think of the growing popular anti-glazer movement in general, and the use of the green and gold colours as a visual effect of the protest?
I think it’s great. Displaying the green and gold is a civil but effective way of expressing your concern…
by Marcotti at 1:04 PM
Green and Gold til they die or fold!
United supporters should boycott just one televised game- it would not damage the club too much but it would scare the shite out of the bondholders and have a profound effect as a show of power. Then an organised group could buy up the bonds cheap and force the club to change.
Sir Matt would turn in his grave about how his/our magnificent club is being sucked dry by these leeches… And as for any of these ‘staff’ who are fooled by the Glazers ‘free’ day out for the League Cup Final: You will be traitors to Sir Matt and his legacy…. Every single one of you!!!!!!
Im with chris. Where is all this talk of a boycott going to lead? Will you be happy if they have to sell Rooney due to it? A boycott will not solve anything only make things worse. I could understand if we were winning nowt and they were selling all our players but we are doing well, fair enough the ticket prices have risen far too much too quickly but how is destroying the club going to solve that???????????????
These stewards who go into the crowd and take the green and gold banners/scarfs ect must be stopped by the majority of fans by any means, they cant be allowed to get away with this, I can see some of them getting badly hurt if they carry on. In the seventies can you imagine them going into the Stretford End and getting away with it
Thanks for your responses.
What I am saying is that whatever the situation was before the buy out, any (group of) owners would have to leverage a take over today. This means that there will be debt, either with the owners or with the club, and interest to service. Debt is not required for any business, but it is required (at some level) for the Man Utd of today.
The reason why Glazers used loans AND equity to finance the buy out is not because the couldn’t afford to buy the club, it’s because it is a sensible way of financing a take over. This is important to understand.
Any new owner would have to sell off his/her other assets in order to finance a purchase without debt. Now, this would be stupid for several reasons. For example, if you agree on a price, it will become publicly known that you are going to buy Man Utd. If you then start to sell your assets people will know that you do so in order to finance your buy. They will then have bargaining power over you, so that you will not get a good price in selling off your old assets.
Furthermore, your old assets gave you a return on your investments. Man Utd will have to offer you the same return or the difference will be considered a loss.
Unless you are an philanthropist type of owner that can accept that type of loss.
If we manage to get that type of owner we run the risk of him/her wanting to run football matters as well, in return for their investment. Is this what we want?
I’m looking at Abramovich and seeing a guy that faxes team sheets to the manager, buys players the manager didn’t ask for, sacks managers for no reason etc. This is not what is best for our club.
Of course, owners will appoint a board to run things, but the keyword here is appoint. SInce they are appointed by the owners they can also be (disappointed 🙂 ) fired by the owners. What patience do you think Abramovich has? Would Sir Alex have survived under Abramovich after 2005?I’m not so sure and might have cost us the successful run we are on now.
Look at Barcelona or Real Madrid where elections are like any American presidential election with promises here and there. These candidates will do anything to get elected and stay there. Is that type of situation going to benefit our club? I think not.
I do think the Glazers have gone a bit too far when it comes to debt/equity ratio, and I would be more comfortable with an owner that is more into the culture of our club and football in general. But I also think that it is very important to have owners that are in it for the money. They will understand that it is important to invest in players for the success of our club. That’s why they will try and create funds for this every year and still run the club on a profitable level.
My interest here is mainly to offer a perspective and start a discussion on what we want after the Glazers are out.
Boycott or not fact is expect a further 11% Rise in tickets prices again next year. Meaning that since the glazers took over the club K stand match ticket has gone from 26GBP a match to 44GBP. While the PLC where in Charge tickets went up with inflation at 1GBP or maybe 2GBP per year, these people do not give a shit about any of us. Also they had an injunction put on an exposie by the News of the world about how they are selling the Fans down the river once again on away match tickets holding majority back and selling them as executive travel, by just adding coach onto a trip with a normal match ticket and putting prices up around 300%. I for one will not be stepping foot back in Old Trafford while these Charlatans are in charge of the club, i love the team as much as i always have but the club has sold itself and its fans down the river.
It is time for the masses to vote with their feet, the credit crunch, which was brought upon the world by con artists like the Glazers, is because of greed. This is why the Glazers are here – to bleed the club dry, there is no way we should stand by and let this happen. Yergen – go and take your opinions somewhere else like a young conservatives forum or something similar. The club belongs to the people of Manchester, not some money grabbing Floridians!
Bill – Unfortunately, I don’t think I qualify as a young conservative. Even so, how do you propose the people of Manchester govern the club, for it to be as successful as possible?
You might think I am pro Glazer. This is not so. I just happen to be a finance professional and I love my club. I am starting to get a little worried that people seem to think that if we just get rid of the Glazers everything will be fine. Far from it.
That’s when the work starts. If we really want the club to be owned by the fans, we have to build a structure for it. This is not done easily. Important questions have to be answered regarding division of power in order to secure political stability. Otherwise we run the risk of every fan playing Football Manager with the club.
Moreover, how do we secure financial stability? Having debt or not should not be our main focus. Instead we need to focus on how to maintain and build on operational sustainability. This harder than most people think and it’s not simply a question of appointing a board.
A PLC answers som e questions, but then we have the problem with transparency.Every bid for a player has to be made public before it’s made to the player and his club. That would seriously hurt our chances in the market, with prices booming(with the likes of Chelsea and RM buying players to spite us it seems).
Another thing with a PLC is that in order to attract shareholders the share has to offer growth or dividends (hopefully, both). Dividends are an expensive way of keeping shareholders happy and might cost us more than having private owners that have financed the take over with a healthy debt/equity ratio.
As you can see, it’s complicated and a lot of issues have to be dealt with before we can say goodbye to the Glazers. If we don’t decide on these matters before a take over, things can go really bad, really quickly.
So again, what do you propose instead of the Glazers?
“I just happen to be a finance professional and I love my club.”
Oh so you’re one of those people who ruined the economy with your great knowledge of all things financial! Nice one! And now you are giving your advice on United’s debt, i think you know less than you think.
Red Knights sound like an interesting alternative, with the current staff to continue to run the club as it is. The thing is the Glazers are doing absolutely nothing to benefit the club. And they have saddled it with debt and take 10 mill at year consultancy fees!!!
They have no football knowledge, and largely if you have a good product on the pitch the crowds will come and merchandise will sell. The infrastructure to maximise Uniteds profits were well in place before the Glazers turned up.
Bill – I’d appreciate if you stop trying to insult me with every comment. It really doesn’t further the discussion.
Do you think the Red Knights will be able/willing to buy the club without any debt? Not likely. At least not if they if they are going to rid the club of the present debt.
“Red Knights sound like an interesting alternative, with the current staff to continue to run the club as it is”
Well, that’s like SAF telling the players to just go out and play before a game. To run a successful organisation you need strategy and vision. This usually comes from the board. The board is appointed and instructed by the owners. How do we secure that the owners can unite on a strategy, f.e no debt or debt, transfer spending etc?
Btw, it’s been 10 million since take over, not every year. If you look at it, management fees were there even in the PLC.
Can’t see there’s any point in carrying on with this discussion – you clearly know it all!
Yergen, you make some excellent points. But surely you don’t think the PIK loans the Glazers took out make long term business sense? You aren’t going to get a 14% (soon to be 16%) risk free return from any asset. So it makes sense for the Glazers to sell off some other assets to pay them off and this should be an urgent task for them.
Perhaps they were intended as short term bridging loans to allow them time to raise the cash from sale of other assets and the credit crunch intervened, persponing the necessary restructuring. But now there is nothing to stop them settling these loans and it would be odd if they allowed them to accumulate more interest while making minimal payments from the money they can take out of United. Which is what everyone seems to be assuming their plan is. That would lead me to believe that they haven’t got other assets to sell and really are in a perilous situation financially.
Here is some info from the Strettyender fan site:
£716m – The debt as of February 2010.
£290 – The amount spent on interest and legal fees to service the debt as of June 2009.
£45m – Annual interest, from 2010 onwards.
£10m – Personal loans to the Glazer family from Manchester United.
£13m – The amount paid to the Glazer family in consultancy and management fees.
£6m – Net transfer spend since 2005. Just to be clear, this is not a yearly figure, this is the total net sum Manchester United have spent on players since the Glazer family took over.
50% – The average rise in ticket prices since 2005.
£0 – The amount of money spent on Manchester United from the Glazer’s pockets.
(Added by United Rant)
£565 million – the amount that the Glazers will suck out of the club in interest, dividends and management fees between now and 2017.
£500 million the minimum amount of debt United will still have in 2017.
Speaks for itself.