Manchester United’s financial situation is in the spotlight this week after the club announced a £500 million bond aimed at reducing the £70 million annual interest burden. But the Prospectus for the club’s market offer served to highlight the myriad of ways the Glazer family is riding roughshod over our 132 year-old club.
Here’s ten reasons to hate them just a little bit more:
Piling on the debt
When Malcolm Glazer and Sons walked into United four and a half years ago the 132 year-old institution was the most profitable club on the planet. Today, United is still the most profitable club on the planet with £700 million of debt piled on the club’s books that will not be repaid for a more than a decade. If ever.
£325 million in interest repayments
The full extent of the Glazer’s leveraged buyout, revealed today in the latest club figures, is horrifying. Forget the official debt statement, which shows a ‘mere’ £260 million interest burden. Factor in rolled-up interest from the family’s Payment in King (PIK) loans and United could have gone on a Real Madrid-style mega spending spree. Twice over.
Doubling ticket prices
The 100% increase in ticket prices at Old Trafford since the family’s arrival in Manchester is hardly surprising but no less acceptable. The Stretford End is long since gone and football’s gentrification well established before Glazer waltzed into the club. But prices are now out of the reach of many – a generation of fans can no longer see the club live
The disgraceful way they use United’s heritage in their debt marketing literature
Duncan Edwards, George Best and Sir Matt Busby will be turning in their graves tonight. The Glazer family, seemingly without a hint of irony, used images from United’s glorious past to sell the club’s massively indebted future. Sickening.
Taking millions for themselves
If it wasn’t enough that the Glazer family indebted United to the hilt, the family’s glossy prospectus let the fans into a little known secret. Disgracefully, immorally but unfortunately not illegally, the family has taken £22.9m million out of the club in consulting fees and loans in the past two years. Talk about milking the club for all it’s worth.
Charging £6 million a season for ‘consultancy’
Don’t worry readers the pillage doesn’t stop with any refinancing package! Buried deep inside the Glazers’ 322 page Prospectus the family confirm that they will take £6 million a season for companies linked to the family. Laughably, United supporters, you will be paying for the family’s ‘consultancy’ and ‘management’ of the club’s huge debt.
Negative transfer spending
Lets talk about facts. During the family’s ownership of United, net transfer spending is negative. That is: United has made more money selling players than the club has spent on bringing new talent into the club in the past four and a half years. Those who still back the family’s ownership point to three Premier League titles and a European cup. For that, only Sir Alex Ferguson deserves thanks.
Selling the club’s best player and using it for their own debt repayment
Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid was inevitable once the player had made up his mind but Sir Alex has not been backed in the transfer market. The Scot talks about value but few now believe that the claim is anything more than a ruse. Today’s prospectus revealed that £70 million of United’s reserves will now pay down the family’s own debt.
Trying to make the word franchise acceptable
Manchester United is a 132 year-old institution, one of the oldest and most venerable clubs on the planet, supported by millions, whose history has been central to the world’s most popular sport. One thing United is not is a FRANCHISE. McDonald’s, Domino’s, Starbucks – franchises bought and sold. Still, the family manages to call the club a franchise not once, not twice, but three times in their prospectus. Some never learn.
Malcom Glazer’s ginger beard