Month July 2012

Month July 2012

Enjoy the Olympics, just don’t bring baby… or an oversized hat

July 11, 2012 Tags: , Just for fun No comments

This summer, before the real thing finally gets underway on 18 August and Manchester United return to Premier League action, Old Trafford will play host to nine men’s and women’s Olympic football matches during the group and knockout stages, with GB, Spain, Brazil and Uruguay men’s teams due to play in Manchester.

The tournament kicks off on 26 July, with the final game at Old Trafford due to take place on 7 August. But the real action kicked off last week, when United legend Bobby Charlton ran the Olympic torch past the ‘Theatre of Dreams’.

While few take the under-23 plus three over-aged players Olympic football tournament seriously, there could be some top names on show at Old Trafford. Indeed, United’s Tom Cleverley and Ryan Giggs should play for Stuart Pearce’s GB team, while David de Gea will captain Spain during the tournament, and Rafael da Silva is with the Brazilians. Rafael’s team-mates Neymar and Lucas Moura, who are the subject of much transfer speculation this summer, will also travel for the games.

So while the tournament may not be well-regarded, the entertainment could prove surprising. That’s if those lucky enough to have secured a ticket for any of the matches, actually make it into the ground. After all, the organising committee, in its infinite wisdom, has drawn up a very long list of items banned from ‘London 2012 venues’. Edited here for brevity, but for not context:

  • All types of knives and bladed items or any other weapons
  • Implements such as extendable batons, sharpened combs, modified belt buckles and loose blades modified into weapons
  • Firearms, ammunition and explosive devices
  • Personal protection sprays such as CS or pepper sprays
  • Fireworks, explosives, flares and smoke canisters
  • Laser pointers and strobe lights
  • Hazardous and toxic materials
  • Glass bottles, glass vessels, cans, flasks
  • Liquids, aerosols and gels in quantities greater than 100ml
  • Alcohol
  • Large flags, banners and poles greater than 1 m in length
  • Tents, placards, spray paint, large industrial style “permanent“ marker pens
  • More than one soft-sided bag of 25 litre capacity
  • Walkie-talkies, phone jammers and radio scanners
  • Personal/private wireless access points and 3G hubs
  • Items too large to be electronically screened
  • Bicycles, folding bikes, roller-skates and skateboards and scooters
  • Pets or animals
  • Controlled drugs or any substances which look like controlled drugs
  • Frisbees and similar items
  • Musical instruments: trumpets, drums, and other devices capable of causing a disturbance
  • Noisemakers such as hunting horns, air horns, klaxons, drums, vuvuzelas, football rattles, clappers and whistles
  • Signs or items with corporate or inappropriate branding, sponsorship, promotional or marketing material
  • Professional-style cameras or recording/transmitting devices
  • Prams / push chairs
  • Unauthorised charity collection utensils
  • Large or non collapsible umbrellas
  • hampers and cold boxes

In addition, notes the organising committee’s helpful email to ticket holders, there are restrictions on the use of some items inside venues, including:

  • Oversized hats
  • Excessive amounts of food
  • Flags of countries not participating in the games

But fans will be delighted to know that they CAN bring the following items. Rant suggests liberal use of breast milk in particular:

  • 10 containers of up to 100ml capacity each, giving a combined maximum capacity of one litre
  • 200ml of sun cream
  • Essential medications must not exceed a combined total of one litre
  • An empty plastic water bottle
  • Soya milk for babies
  • Sterilised water for the baby
  • Formula, breast milk or cow milk specifically for babies
  • Baby food of various consistencies

Much of which will disappoint regular Rant readers given our penchant for bringing unusual items to games, including, but not limited to: intercontinental thermonuclear ballistic missiles; the flag of Vatican City; an umbrella to keep out of the Manchester rain, 201ml of sun cream, you know, just in-f*cking-case; an atmosphere; a large sign bearing the moniker “John Terry is a c*nt”; a MasterCard; a half-full bottle of Evian to keep the vocal chords nimble; an Anderson-sized McDonald’s order; sherbert dip.

We can, and will, however try to sneak in the items not proscribed by the IOC, such as condoms, a dildo, anal beads, and a gimp mask.

Mind you, Rant will of course be wearing its lucky match-day pants during the games:

olympics pants

 

Matches held at Old Trafford during the Olympic football tournament

Group stage
26 Jul – UAE v Uruguay (men’s, 17:00)
26 Jul – GB v Senegal (men’s, 19:45)
29 Jul – Brazil v Belarus (men’s, 12:00)
29 Jul – Egypt v New Zealand (men’s, 14:45)
31 Jul – USA v N Korea (women’s, 17:15)
1 Aug – Spain v Morocco (men’s, 17:00)

Quarter-finals
4 Aug (men’s, TBC)

Semi-finals
6 Aug (women’s, TBC)
7 Aug (men’s, TBC)

Happy Olympics, folks!

Enjoy the Olympics, just don’t bring baby… or an oversized hat

July 11, 2012 Tags: , Just for fun 10 comments
featured image

This summer, before the real thing finally gets underway on 18 August and Manchester United return to Premier League action, Old Trafford will play host to nine men’s and women’s Olympic football matches during the group and knockout stages, with GB, Spain, Brazil and Uruguay men’s teams due to play in Manchester.

The tournament kicks off on 26 July, with the final game at Old Trafford due to take place on 7 August. But the real action kicked off last week, when United legend Bobby Charlton ran the Olympic torch past the ‘Theatre of Dreams’.

While few take the under-23 plus three over-aged players Olympic football tournament seriously, there could be some top names on show at Old Trafford. Indeed, United’s Tom Cleverley and Ryan Giggs should play for Stuart Pearce’s GB team, while David de Gea will captain Spain during the tournament, and Rafael da Silva is with the Brazilians. Rafael’s team-mates Neymar and Lucas Moura, who are the subject of much transfer speculation this summer, will also travel for the games.

So while the tournament may not be well-regarded, the entertainment could prove surprising. That’s if those lucky enough to have secured a ticket for any of the matches, actually make it into the ground. After all, the organising committee, in its infinite wisdom, has drawn up a very long list of items banned from ‘London 2012 venues’. Edited here for brevity, but for not context:

  • All types of knives and bladed items or any other weapons
  • Implements such as extendable batons, sharpened combs, modified belt buckles and loose blades modified into weapons
  • Firearms, ammunition and explosive devices
  • Personal protection sprays such as CS or pepper sprays
  • Fireworks, explosives, flares and smoke canisters
  • Laser pointers and strobe lights
  • Hazardous and toxic materials
  • Glass bottles, glass vessels, cans, flasks
  • Liquids, aerosols and gels in quantities greater than 100ml
  • Alcohol
  • Large flags, banners and poles greater than 1 m in length
  • Tents, placards, spray paint, large industrial style “permanent“ marker pens
  • More than one soft-sided bag of 25 litre capacity
  • Walkie-talkies, phone jammers and radio scanners
  • Personal/private wireless access points and 3G hubs
  • Items too large to be electronically screened
  • Bicycles, folding bikes, roller-skates and skateboards and scooters
  • Pets or animals
  • Controlled drugs or any substances which look like controlled drugs
  • Frisbees and similar items
  • Musical instruments: trumpets, drums, and other devices capable of causing a disturbance
  • Noisemakers such as hunting horns, air horns, klaxons, drums, vuvuzelas, football rattles, clappers and whistles
  • Signs or items with corporate or inappropriate branding, sponsorship, promotional or marketing material
  • Professional-style cameras or recording/transmitting devices
  • Prams / push chairs
  • Unauthorised charity collection utensils
  • Large or non collapsible umbrellas
  • hampers and cold boxes

In addition, notes the organising committee’s helpful email to ticket holders, there are restrictions on the use of some items inside venues, including:

  • Oversized hats
  • Excessive amounts of food
  • Flags of countries not participating in the games

But fans will be delighted to know that they CAN bring the following items. Rant suggests liberal use of breast milk in particular:

  • 10 containers of up to 100ml capacity each, giving a combined maximum capacity of one litre
  • 200ml of sun cream
  • Essential medications must not exceed a combined total of one litre
  • An empty plastic water bottle
  • Soya milk for babies
  • Sterilised water for the baby
  • Formula, breast milk or cow milk specifically for babies
  • Baby food of various consistencies

Much of which will disappoint regular Rant readers given our penchant for bringing unusual items to games, including, but not limited to: intercontinental thermonuclear ballistic missiles; the flag of Vatican City; an umbrella to keep out of the Manchester rain, 201ml of sun cream, you know, just in-f*cking-case; an atmosphere; a large sign bearing the moniker “John Terry is a c*nt”; a MasterCard; a half-full bottle of Evian to keep the vocal chords nimble; an Anderson-sized McDonald’s order; sherbert dip.

We can, and will, however try to sneak in the items not proscribed by the IOC, such as condoms, a dildo, anal beads, and a gimp mask.

Mind you, Rant will of course be wearing its lucky match-day pants during the games:

olympics pants

 

Matches held at Old Trafford during the Olympic football tournament

Group stage
26 Jul – UAE v Uruguay (men’s, 17:00)
26 Jul – GB v Senegal (men’s, 19:45)
29 Jul – Brazil v Belarus (men’s, 12:00)
29 Jul – Egypt v New Zealand (men’s, 14:45)
31 Jul – USA v N Korea (women’s, 17:15)
1 Aug – Spain v Morocco (men’s, 17:00)

Quarter-finals
4 Aug (men’s, TBC)

Semi-finals
6 Aug (women’s, TBC)
7 Aug (men’s, TBC)

Happy Olympics, folks!

Three Lungs departs

July 9, 2012 Tags: Opinion 31 comments

There is a sad irony in Park Ji-Sung’s ‘Three Lungs’ moniker, with the  midfielder seemingly reduced to something far less as the South Korean huffed his way around the Eastlands pitch for an hour of Manchester United’s crucial 1-0 defeat to Manchester City in April. Park, incongruously selected by Sir Alex Ferguson for the Reds’ season-defining Premier League match, was not only truly dreadful on the night, but patently unfit for the encounter. After seven years and more than 200 games for United it was no way to end a career at the highest level.

But with United accepting Queens Park Rangers’ £2.5 million bid for Park at the weekend – a deal that with performance related add-ons may increase to £5 million – the former PSV Eindhoven midfielder’s ignominious appearance against City on 30 April was his last in Red.

Park’s departure was officially confirmed on Monday after the 31-year-old completed a medical at the ambitious west London outfit and work-permit approval was granted by the home office. Park’s arrival at Loftus Road was accompanied by the usual guff; platitudes from player and manager, along with the bizarre assertion from owner Tony Fernandes that the South Korean’s acquisition marks QPR’s arrival on the international stage.

“This is a real coup for QPR,” chimed manager Mark Hughes at QPR’s press conference on Monday afternoon.

“We are delighted Ji is going to join us because his record speaks for itself. He has been a big player for Manchester United and played a big part in their success in recent years. He is hugely respected there because of what he has achieved, his application to his work and the impact he has on games. He was always picked for the big matches because they could rely on him, and we are going to reap all those qualities.

“I think it is fair to say Ji has been attracted not by where QPR are, but where QPR are going. We were able to show him where we feel the Club is heading and he embraced it. He felt this was a good option for him and after giving seven great years to United he wanted a new challenge. He sees QPR as very much a Club on the up and wants to be part of something that is going to be very special.”

Park arrived at Old Trafford from PSV in summer 2005 for a bargain at £4 million, having impressed with the Dutch club in the Champions League, and at international level with South Korea. In total Park played 205 games for United, scoring 27 goals, although there were just 93 Premier League starts in seven seasons with the club.

Although Park was rarely able to hold down a first team place, he gained a reputation for being a ‘big game player’, as manager Ferguson turned to the South Korean’s tactical discipline in high pressure matches both at home and in the Champions League. Park’s ability to defend from the point of a three-man central midfield, or protect his full-back when deployed wide, won Ferguson’s trust despite the Korean’s limited technical ability and infuriating propensity to fall over with the slightest physical contact.

Indeed, it is in some of United’s biggest games that Park is best remembered; the Champions League second round against AC Milan in 2010 when Park outshone Euro 2012 Andrea Pirlo, for example. He also scored against Arsenal in the semi-final of the same competition, and struck to secure United’s victory over Liverpool in 2010, while finding the net against Chelsea in Europe during the 2010/11 campaign.

So too will Park be remembered as a pioneer: the first Asian to play for United, the first South Korean to appear in the Premier League, four domestic titles – three in succession between 2007 and 2009 – and of course a Champions League winners medal in 2008. Where few Asian players had succeeded in the Premier League, Park thrived and then some.

But there was disappointment too, with the player left out of Ferguson’s 2009 Champions League final matchday party. So too were fans disheartened by Park’s frustratingly limited technical ability; a player selected too often in offensive positions for his defensive discipline and stamina, while more talented players sat on the bench. The ‘coward’s winger’, who offered too little going forward, but ran himself into the ground for the team all the same.

“He’s been a fantastic servant to the club over the past seven years,” Ferguson told ManUtd.com.

“He is the ultimate professional and such a nice lad; he never let us down on the big occasions. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t give him the number of games he wanted. Everyone at Manchester United wishes him well for the future and I am sure he will be a great success at QPR.”

Indeed, Park owes his longevity at Old Trafford to Ferguson’s trust when many supporters point to the midfielder’s limited natural talent. Yet, so too is the 70-year-old United coach culpable for transforming Park from the genuine offensive player that appeared for PSV in three successful seasons, into a player noted more for a his defensive work while in England.

It is the player’s dubious technical merits that have so often led to accusations that the player remained at Old Trafford for commercial and not footballing reasons. While the marketing element has always been overstated, cynics will note that Park has been jettisoned just a month after United acquired a new marquee Asian player in Japanese international Shinji Kagawa.

Still, while the South Korea may never rank among the very finest to have played for the club, he will be remembered with affection; for his never-ending work-rate and selfless understanding of the team ethic. These, after all, are attributes that far more talented players still in Ferguson’s squad so desperately require.

“My time at United will last in my heart for the rest of my life,” Park said on Monday.

“It’s been a great privilege to be part of such a great team, to have won so much and to have played with special teammates and for the greatest manager in the game. I would like to thank everybody at the club who give their best every single day to put every player in the best condition to enjoy their football and achieve success. The fans have been fantastic to me and I will always remember them with great affection.”

Whether Park secures the same affection at Loftus Road in the final two years of his career is a question for the season ahead. Certainly, United fans will afford the player a rousing welcome when he returns to Old Trafford as a QPR player in November.

Glazer SEC filing exposes cloak and dagger strategy

July 5, 2012 Tags: , , Opinion 85 comments

One thing can be said for the Glazer family: they’re happy to go a long way to keep a secret. More than four and a half thousand miles from Manchester United’s base at Old Trafford, to the corporate tax haven on Grand Cayman in the Caribbean Sea, to be precise. But while the Americans seek to minimise future tax burdens and public scrutiny, in a corporate reorganisation prompted by a US-based stock market float this summer, the Glazers have also revealed more of their dubious business model, including, for the first time an admission that the club’s “indebtedness” is a burden.

United’s official announcement, Tuesday, that the club is seeking to float on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) came as the company filed statutory Initial Public Offering (IPO) papers in the US. These papers, which form a legally binding contact with potential investors, offer some insight both into the club’s financial model, and the extent to which United’s £443 million debt has finally triggered the Glazer family into action after six years in which the club has haemorrhaged more than £500 million on interest, debt repayments and other costs.

While the number of shares to be offered and the “price range for the proposed offering” have not yet been determined, the family is potentially seeking hundreds of millions of dollars for a minority stake in the club. Indeed, while the club had been seeking up to $1 billion in the now abandoned Singapore float, a $100 million figure widely quoted in the media is little more than a placeholder for a much larger NYSE offering that must take place within the next 90 days.

Bookrunners for the proposed IPO include medium-sized investment bank Jefferies, who will lead an offering far larger than any it has previously underwritten. Credit Suisse Securities, JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Deutsche Bank Securities are also in on the float. And it is these banks that will lead marketing for the float over the next three months, drumming up support for an IPO that will reorganise the Glazers’ myriad of holding companies, and split United’s ownership structure for the first time since 2005.

The family will move United’s ultimate base to the super-secretive tax haven Cayman Islands, while as has been previously mooted, the Glazers intend to offer only class A shares to the market, with Malcolm Glazer and “his six lineal descendants” retaining a majority stake of class B shares that hold 10 times the voting power.

The filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) makes clear that investors in United’s IPO with neither get significant voting rights nor any future dividends from the offering. Investors can hope only to gain through future capital gains if United’s operating profit grows in the coming years.

Underpinning the listing is the family’s belief that United’s global appeal will reap financial rewards. The IPO prospectus makes much of the recent ‘study’ that United is “followed” by 659 million people globally, with, says the filing, a popular Facebook page that boasts more than 26 million connections.

Future growth is likely to be based on a triumvirate of financial streams: broadcasting revenues, commercial income and matchday sales.

United’s revenues have grown under the Glazer family’s ownership, with the club listing sponsorship income as rising from £37.2 million in 2009 to almost £55 million in the year ending 30 June 2011. Meanwhile, the club’s very long-term deal with Nike, which is set to be renegotiated by 2015, has grown incrementally from £23.3 million in 2009 to more than £31 million last year.

Similarly new media and mobile revenue has increased, while commercial revenue from sponsors such as Nike, Aon, DHL, Epson, Turkish Airlines and Singha has increased from £66 million three years ago to more than £100 million in 2011.

Together with increasing revenues from domestic and overseas broadcast rights, which the family has little direct control over, United intends to expand its “global retail footprint”, says the club’s SEC document, investing in a “portfolio of product licenses” that will bring United’s brand to an ever great audience.

Whatever the grand plans for financial growth the club also faces challenges in the coming years, underlined in more than 20 pages of sobering – and legally required – risk assessment. Not least the club’s debt, which the Glazer family, chief executive David Gill and Sir Alex Ferguson have routinely claimed has no effect on the business.

No longer, with the SEC document concluding that debt could “adversely affect” the company’s “financial health and competitive position.”

“As of March 31, 2012, we had total indebtedness of £423.3 million,” continues the SEC filing. “Our indebtedness increases the risk that we may be unable to generate cash sufficient to pay amounts due in respect of our indebtedness. It could also have effects on our business.”

These effects, concludes the document, may include an impact on the playing team’s competitiveness, especially with some clubs – particularly Chelsea and Manchester City – spending “substantial sums” on transfer fees and salaries. This increased competition, says United, could result in team finishing lower in Premier League than in the past, jeopardising qualification for the Champions League, which would “result in a material reduction in revenue.”

Indeed, United admits that the “ability to attract and retain talented players and coaching staff,” could negatively affect brand and reputation and that “our business is dependent upon our ability to attract and retain key personnel, including players.”

This may go some way to explain United’s acquisition of Japanese international Shinji Kagawa for £17 million this summer, with Ferguson’s side desperately requiring creativity from midfield after a season in which the club finished trophyless, and the Glazers’ business model hinged on global reach. Indeed, United’s “popularity in certain countries or regions may depend, at least in part, on fielding certain players from those countries/regions,” admits the SEC document.

But while many of the risk factors drawn up by the IPO prospectus are unlikely – terrorism, natural disaster, or a downturn in football’s popularity, for example – it is the financials that will concern United fans most. Indeed, the IPO filing demonstrates, not for the first time, just how frequently the club leaks cash due to the Glazer family’s business model, including “£4.8 million in professional advisor fees in connection with the proposed public offering of shares.”

Moreover, the filing also gives some insight into the mysterious repayment of the family’s Payment-in-Kind hedge fund loans, concluding that “£111.1 million of interest payments were made in 2011 in connection with the repayment of our payment in kind loan.”

By contrast the £7.2 million United paid in ‘consultancy fees’, in the fiscal year to 30 June 2011, to Red Football LLC – the Glazers’ holding company – is a drop in the debt ocean. The Glazers also took consultancy fees of £2.9 million in 2009, and £3.1 million in 2010.

The Glazers also drew loans from the club of £10 million between December 2008 and November 2010 at a nominal 5.5 per cent interest, although that is somewhat moot given that the club also paid the family a £10 million dividend in 2012.

Despite the relative transparency of United’s IPO filing, these small morsels of financial information may remain rare, although the club will be required to make quarterly filings with the SEC post-offering. After all “following the offering, we will be a “controlled company” within the meaning of the New York Stock Exchange rules,” states the filing, “and we intend to take advantage of exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements.”

But many eyes will remain on United in the coming weeks as the family gears up for a listing in a tetchy post-Facebook IPO market. And it is the market that will eventually determine whether the Glazer family has struck the right chord with an IPO that offers investors a very limited, and admittedly risky deal.

Should the market buy into the pitch, then United should enter a new far less indebted world in the coming months. After all, the Glazers filing promises to “use all of our net proceeds from this offering to reduce our indebtedness” by exercising options to redeem in aggregate principal senior secured bond notes that are due to mature in 2017.

Whether that leaves United better able to compete remains an open question. After all, while the club may become – if the IPO is successful – far less indebted, it will still be owned and completely controlled by the Glazer family. A family that has taken seven years to conclude that its debt-fuelled takeover was damaging to the club.

Key Takeaways

  • United will offer an as yet undetermined number of shares at an unspecified price on the New York Stock Exchange within the next 90 days
  • The total value is likely to far exceed the $100 million ‘placeholder’ noted in the club’s SEC filing
  • The club “intends” to use all proceeds to pay down debt, which currently stands at £423 million
  • The club will offer only Class A shares that have much reduced voting rights; no dividend will be offered to investors
  • United’s ultimate holding company will be based in the tax haven of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
  • United, through a myriad of holding companies, paid more than £111 million in payment-in-kind loan interest in recent years
  • It is estimated by various analysts that the club has spent more than £500 million on debt, interests and other costs associated with the Glazer family’s business model over the past seven years
  • United has finally admitted that “indebtedness” is a risk to the club’s business model and competitiveness, on and off the pitch
  • Despite this, Glazer family took a £10 million loan from the club in 2008-2010, and paid itself a £10 million dividend in 2012.

Reds face up to early season disruption

July 4, 2012 Tags: , , , , Opinion 8 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson could face a challenging start to the new season, with Euro 2012, injury, and the Olympics disrupting Manchester United’s preparations ahead of the Premier League’s start on 18 August. Seven United players will miss the Reds’ pre-season tour of South Africa, China and Norway after appearing in the Euro 2012 tournament this summer. Meanwhile, four Reds are set to appear in the Olympics, with the gold medal match scheduled to take place in London just a week before the new season kicks off. It could leave Ferguson without a dozen players during United’s pre-season programme.

United’s Euro 2012 players – Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck, Patrice Evra, Nani and Anders Lindegaard – will not travel with the touring party after being given extra time to recover this summer. None will miss the big kick-off, injury permitting, but neither will the group benefit from the pre-season matches required to be match fit for the start of the new campaign. The group will each return to training late, although Rooney played just twice at the tournament, Evra once, while Jones and Lindegaard spent Euro 2012 on the bench.

United began pre-season training on Monday 2 July, with Sir Alex’ side taking on Amazulu FC in Durban on 18 July, followed by matches with Ajax Cape Town in Cape Town three days later. United’s tour moves on to China, where Ferguson’s side meets Didier Drogba’s Shanghai Shenua, followed by a fixtures with Valerenga in Oslo, and Barcelona at the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg. The lengthy and five country summer tour concludes with a match against Hannover 96 at the AWD Arena on 11 August.

Adding to Ferguson’s early season challenges, it appears likely that four players will also take part at the Olympics. Fixtures in the under-23 tournament are spread across the UK, with the football tournament starting on 25 July and concluding just a week before the new Premier League season finishes on 11 August in London.

David de Gea is included in Spain’s strong Olympics squad, with La Roja’s juniors one of the tournament favourites. The provisional Spanish squad also includes Juan Mata, Javier Martinez, and Jordi Alba, each of whom appeared at Euro 2012 this summer. Luis Milla’s young Spaniards are heavily based on the squad that secured the European U-21 championship last summer.

Challenging Spain for the tag of tournament favourite is Brazil, with coach Mano Menezes including Rafael da Silva in his provisional 35-man squad. The 50-year-old manager will cut his squad to 18 players by 6 July, and Rafael’s is not guaranteed. Brother Fabio, who this week joined Queens Park Rangers on loan for the 2012/13 season, is not included in Menezes’ tournament party.

Anderson, who played in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, is not included after losing his place in the Brazilian side, while the 24-year-old only qualifies as an over-age player.

Meanwhile, in the British Olympic squad Ryan Giggs and Tom Cleverley have been included by coach Stuart Pearce. Giggs’ inclusion had been long expected, adding an experienced bent to a young Anglo-Welsh squad. No Scots or Northern Irish players are included in Pearce’s squad.

Giggs is signed up to another campaign at Old Trafford, but will now miss pre-season to be part of Pearce’s squad, with the British taking on Senegal at Old Trafford in Britain’s first Olympic football fixture since 1960. Team GB play the United Arab Emirates at Wembley before the final Group A game against Uruguay in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on 1 August.

While Ferguson encourage Giggs’ participation, with the 38-year-old Welshman having missed out on tournament football with Wales, the United manager blocked all other over-age players taking part, including Rio Ferdinand, Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick. Chris Smalling misses out with the thigh injury that ended his hopes of being included in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2012 party.

Cleverley’s inclusion is a mixed blessing though, with the 22-year-old having missed much of 2011/12 with a recurrent ankle injury. While Cleverley could play in at least three matches during United’s pre-season period, he will not join United’s touring party at any point. Cleverley, though, says he is taking part with Ferguson’s approval.

“Throughout my career I want to experience many things,” said Cleverley. “The Olympics would be a fantastic part of it. I’m buzzing about it. I cannot wait. It is a great way for me to bounce back after the disappointment of not going to the Euros with England.

“It’s a young squad, apart from the older-age players, and after England’s Euro 2012 experience a lot of people are talking about putting the accent on youth. This is a chance for me to remind people early. They’ve put trust in us and I want to repay that faith.”

“I need to hit the ground running for the new season and this is a great chance for me. The manager was happy for me that I was shortlisted and had no problems about me being in the Olympics. I will miss United’s pre-season tour and, ideally, I would have liked to do both. But after my injury spell out last season, Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick were doing so well I didn’t get much game time. So I need minutes on the pitch and I feel that playing in high-stake competitive matches like I’ll get at the Olympics is right for me.”

Elsewhere Ferguson has ensured that Javier Hernandez is not included in Mexico’s squad, despite suggestions that the 24-year-old could be his country’s flag-bearer at the Games. Meanwhile, new signing Shinji Kagawa will not be part of Japan’s squad for the three-week long tournament.

Add injuries to captain Nemanja Vidić, and Fletcher into the mix, and Ferguson faces up to United’s pre-season programme without a dozen players. It’s a disruptive element that will ensure some younger faces in the Reds’ touring party this summer.