Fergie and Glazers’ profit from IPO leaves fans angry



Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to profit from the Glazer family’s partial flotation of Manchester United, documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revealed on Monday. The legendary United coach, who has been forthright in his defence of the Glazers since the American’s summer 2005 leveraged buy-out, may benefit from a share of $288 million set aside for employee options if the New York Initial Public Offering is successful in the coming weeks.

The Glazer family is seeking to raise up to $330 million from a 10 per cent flotation of the club on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) that has left many fans angry, especially as the Americans are set to use just £75 million of proceeds to pay down United’s £423 million debt. It is a u-turn that has brought scorn from fans’ groups and investors alike.

On a dramatic day at Old Trafford, United also announced a new shirt deal with General Motors (GM), the partially state-owned American auto-maker, which will see the club sporting Cheverolet branding for seven years from the 2014/15 season onwards. It is a deal, announced almost two years before United’s contract with principal sponsor AON runs out, which provokes plenty of questions ahead of the club’s on-off-on again IPO.

Indeed, as United announced the deal Monday afternoon, GM parted company with its high-profile chief marketing officer Joel Ewanick; the 52-year-old CMO was brutally sacked over his part in two separate sponsorship deals with the club in the past two months. GM management is said to be angry over Ewanick’s handling of the deal’s fine print, which provoked a last-minute renegotiation to ensure Cheverlot branding will appear of United’s shirts in two year’s time.

Yet, Ewanick’s dismissal is only one mystery on a day that saw United ink, potentially, the most lucrative deal of its kind in world football, while setting an ambitiously high valuation on the club ahead of the controversial New York IPO. United announced the new sponsorship package with the car manufacturer just hours before filing an amended F-1 form with the SEC.

The sums may be huge for both sponsorship and IPO. The Daily Telegraph claimed United is set to receive a record £196 million over seven years, while Reuters reporting inside knowledge of a £382 million deal. Whatever the true number, the deal will surpass that secured by Barcelona, with the Catalan club sporting Qatar Foundation branding for around £25 million per season.

Meanwhile, if the deal with GM, which is still 26 per cent owned by the US Federal Reserve after it received a government bail-out in 2009, was positive news for Glazer family, the American’s used it to bury an even more dramatic turnaround in the club’s US flotation. The IPO is back on after the FT reported a “pause” in proceedings last week.

But the on-off-on nature of the flotation is only part of the drama as details emerged of the family’s intention to take around half the IPO proceedings for themselves, with only a fraction likely to be used to pay down the club’s huge debt. Should the IPO get away as planned United’s gross debt will fall to around £350 million, with interest savings of just £5 million per season from the float.

Once again the Glazers’ business model exposed as a sham; built to keep one step ahead of the banks, and the family in ready cash, while milking the club for every penny of value.

But it is the provision for a substantial carve out of share options for ‘selected senior management and employees’, in addition to eight million shares being sold by the Glazer family itself, which will surely anger fans. While a similar number of shares is being sold by the club, the Glazers will suffer almost no dilution in their grip on power at Old Trafford, with provisions to issue two classes of shares still in place.

“Supporters are going to be very angry about this,” said Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) chief executive Duncan Drasdo.

“The Glazers have already cost United more than £550m in debt related fees and now another slap in the face as they help themselves to half of the proposed IPO proceeds. Each of the six lineal descendants of Malcolm Glazer will claw out $25 million for themselves.

“Clearly this has nothing to do with benefits for Manchester United and is all about giving the Glazers quick access to desperately needed cash at the expense of our football club.

“There is now no doubt that this IPO is bad for Manchester United supporters, Manchester United Football Club and any investors gullible enough to pay the inflated price they’ve attached to inferior shares.”

Meanwhile, United manager Ferguson may be among those senior personnel selected to be part of the 2012 Equity Incentive Award Plan, which will be funded from the further sale of 16 million shares in the club. If Ferguson’s involvement proves true – and how could Ferguson not be a beneficiary along with chief executive David Gill – then many supporters will be left confused and rightly angry.

After all, here is a manager without peer in modern football, who has brought unprecedented success to the club, but may directly profit from the Glazers’ debt-loaded business model. Moreover, if Ferguson is to profit from the scheme fans should question whether they can ever take the manager’s words of praise about the Glazer family seriously again. Once a man-of-the-people, Ferguson has seemingly become a central cog in the machinations of cynical greed.

But the debate, of course, is moot until both confirmation of those beneficiaries leeks out and the IPO gets away. Neither is certain, with investors roundly critical of the Glazers’ plan which, if anything, offers less to those buying into the flotation than ever before. After all, there is no plan to offer dividends, while the family will retain more than 97 per cent voting control of the club.

Moreover, with an equity value of around £2 billion many investors have publicly baulked at the cost, with shares priced at between $16 and $20. Taking the mid point of that range, the Glazers are seeking a 20 times EBITDA multiple on the asset – 24 times given the implied enterprise value – for a business whose profit fell by 15 per cent in the last financial year as performances suffered on the pitch. This is, after all, a 134-year-old ‘emerging high growth company’ that grew not a jot last year, and just 14 per cent over the past three.

“It could be challenging to justify such strong multiples for a company that needs to spend a lot of money to generate success,” Ken Perkins, an analyst with Morningstar told Reuters on Tuesday. “Even if their performance is good their price may be a bit high.”

“Shareholders are getting a shoddy deal,” echoed United-supporting Michael Jarman, chief equity strategist at H2O Markets. “Investors are not idiots and there is simply no value in the company. The Glazers want to have their cake and eat it – the share structure shows they want to retain complete and utter control.”

There was little to cheer for investors in preliminary financials released by the club in its updated prospectus, with United’s bean-counters estimating a fall in revenues of around five per cent, and a substantial drop in EBITDA – ‘cash profits’. Meanwhile, costs continue to rise, which when taken in aggregate with exceptional items like a hefty tax credit and the £7.7 million costs of issuing the IPO, will create a paper loss for the business in the financial year just closed.

No wonder the family was so keen to prematurely announce its deal with GM, with many supporters wondering whether the auto-maker is pre-paying part of the sponsorship package as AON did two years ago. The Glazers’ apparent desperation for quick cash at the club’s expense suggests this is highly likely to be the case.

No matter how lucrative the deal, front-loading payments will reduce United’s ongoing income at a later date, potentially cheating investors down-the-line.

Whether full details emerge in time is questionable. After all documents revealed that the Glazers registered United in the super-secret Cayman Islands on 30 April – the day City beat the Reds at Eastlands. And the question now on many supporters’ lips is whether Ferguson is one of the beneficiaries in a controversial share option scheme that will net some tens of millions, and the club absolutely nothing.

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  • Damian Garside

    This is getting really sordid: venality pure and simple unbridled and unashamed. Now the man who did so much seems to want to take so much. Pity we can’t get him to give back that knighthood if he wants to show himself manifestly unworthy of it.

  • ja

    Despite being Manchester born and bred, taken to watch the A and B teams at the Cliff by my grandad in the early 60s, saw the 64 Youth Cup winning team at Old Trafford, never has my decision to walk away in 2005 felt more vindicated. I just wish others were able to make that leap to sanity in the hope that one day the parasites sucking the lifeblood out of United go away.

  • bman

    The off-again on-again IPO announcements might well be related to the Chevrolet confusion. If the deal seemed to be going south, that would be a good reason to delay the IPO, but when it got sorted out the Glazers pressed ahead.

    One interesting idea — I wonder if the employees’ equity program might include some of the playing staff. That might be a very interesting way to make our pay deals extremely competitive while also binding key players to the club long term. For example, if we signed (completely hypothetical) a big name player like Hazard, the club could offer him options each year that would be tied to him sticking to the club. Big companies use this all the time to incentivise people to stay with the company; it also means that the value of his options would be related to the team’s performance, so it would have a sort of performance-related element built in. It’s an interesting notion that would give us a huge competitive advantage, potentially.

  • zig

    I was a ST Holder up to 3 yrs ago, i walked away, if only more ST Holders would do the same, we may very well force this parasite family to sell.

  • colin

    Question: In the prospectus it reads:

    “We are selling 8,333,334 Class A ordinary shares and the selling shareholder named in this prospectus is selling 8,333,333 Class A ordinary shares.”

    Is the “we” Manchester United plc and is the “selling shareholder” Red Football LLC?

  • bman

    On reflection, I’m cautiously optimistic about the IPO getting a decent response from the market. The fact is that there is nowhere safe for wealthy people and institutions to park their money these days, but big football clubs seem to be fairly recession proof: their TV rights seem to increase like clockwork, and Utd in particular is showing decent revenue growth. So if nothing else it might be a relatively safe investment compared to just about everything else out there, with the potential for a big upside if the Glazers sell the club.

    This might also be why Fergie’s been openly talking about trying to sign big name players like RVP and Moura. The IPO’s success depends on investors seeing Utd as (1) a powerful global brand (so star power on the pitch is needed) and (2) a relatively safe investment, so the club needs to show that it will continue to be competitive in footballing terms. If there’s transfer window propaganda going on, I don’t think it’s the fans the club is worried about, it’s investors. Signing one or two big stars plus the Chevrolet deal is the perfect set-up for the IPO.

    I don’t pretend to know too much about this stuff, but it seems to me like the IPO might be the best plausible outcome for the club at this moment in time. Realistically a benevolent sugar daddy is not going to come along any time soon. Infuriating as it is to watch the Glazers live it up off the back of the club, if the IPO is successful it is probably a decent improvement on the current situation.

    • colin

      It’s not so much about safety of the investment, but the initial pricing. Buying in at $16-$20 per share would value United at approximately 3B which is very generous. Given the high valuation, lack of dividend, and minimal voting rights, I’m not as optimistic.

      Most are categorizing United stock as a “media company” and traditional media companies such as Zynga, Groupon, and Facebook are getting crushed right now.

      • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

        colin – yes equity value of around £2bn and an implied enterprise value of £2.4 with the debt. 20 x multiple is a joke… that’s super fast growing tech company, which is doubling revenues every year. United nowhere nearing that…. metrics suggest a mature company seeking new revenue streams, which is exactly what United is. Most football clubs are ‘valued’ by Forbes at a 12 – 14x multiple. Even that might be generous.

        As for safe investment – United has grown 14% in three years. At that rate of growth you’d be better putting your cash in government bonds and that’s just about the least risky investment there is.

    • Stevie D

      Safe bet eh? I remember people in the states saying Enron was a “sure thing” a few years ago, and Irish investors said the same with Anglo Irish Bank shares. And look what happened! Not that I’m saying United would collapse like Enron, but you never know! There is no safe bet on the equity markets.
      I’m no expert either, but with no dividends, no voting rights, and very uncertain prospects of capital gains on these share….I can’t see there being much interest in the IPO.
      In fact, with Fergie coming closer to the end of his tenure all the time, the future success of United on the pitch could be viewed as less certain than ever. Does that make any capital gains look on these shares look even more uncertain? I would say yes.
      Well that’s my tuppence worth anyway.

  • dyson x

    the question is IF Ferguson will receive any financial gain through the IPO. as this artical has no idea i wish he would stop spouting his anti fergie views. just one mans opinion no more!

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      dyson – and it’s an ‘opinion’ I’m allowed to express whether you like it or not. The question isn’t whether Ferguson will be a beneficiary to the share scheme, but why he wouldn’t as a key employee. And then whether his praise of the Glazer family is linked to this (probably) huge pay out.

      • dyson x

        We are all allowed one. I for one would love to see the Glazers sell up and run for the hills, but i dont see that happening just yet. until fergie retires im sure he is just keeping peace for the good of the club. Maybe i am naive but i think he deserves some respect?

        • Alfonso bedoya

          Respect for what?

          For treating fans with the same, “there’s one born every minute” contempt as his “fantastic” employers?

          Ferguson is a treacherous fuck, and he’ll get no respect from this “Real Fan”.

        • http://www.twitter.com/News_ManUtd Gareth

          Completely agree. This is all hypothetical and without substance. Ferguson has revived this club, brought us our first league title in 26 years and continued to bring success. I find it extremely disrespectful to start rumours like this. How ungrateful can you get?!? Even if Fergie did get some benefit from it he deserves every penny. He is the best manager we have ever had and will ever have.

          Those people making up nonsense about Fergie should go support someone else!

          • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

            Gareth – there you go another Glazer fanboy telling supporters to go and support somebody else. Ferguson suggested this once too you know.

            There is a separation here though that you’ve missed.

            1) Reward for outstanding success is one thing and nobody begrudges Ferguson his £6m-a-season salary and hefty bonuses.

            2) Reward for supporting the Glazer family and their leveraged business model that has sucked £500 million out of the club, and for supporting an IPO that hardly helps United’s financial position at all.

            If Ferguson is rewarded in this share options scheme – and why wouldn’t he be – then he falls into the latter camp. This is not a reward for being a great manager, this is a pot designed primarily for the Glazer brothers and one sister to extract even more money out of the club.

            This isn’t a rumour, or making stuff up – this scheme exists and it’s unthinkable that an employee as important as Ferguson won’t benefit.

  • Truth teller

    Shall we wait and see what happens before we all send fergie to the stake??
    Bunch of ungrateful morons

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Truth teller – oh I’m sorry, another who thinks that it’s not ok to express an opinion. It used to be that Glazer fans would try and make an argument in facts. Now it’s just insults.

      • Truth teller

        Where did I say I was glazer fan? I`m a fergie fan,and to read some of the shit thats being spouted him is down right disgusting.

        • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

          Truth teller – I’m a Fergie fan (the manager) too. Who isn’t? When he openly supports and potentially financially benefits from a policy that is harming the club I’m not a Fergie fan (the man).

          • Truth teller

            What do you want him to do….resign? you say hes goint to potentially beneifit……well ive just bought to euro-millions lotto tickets,so potentially Im a multi millionaire..I wont celebrate just yet tho

          • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

            Truth teller – no I’d like to know whether he has a conflict of interest. He says not. We’ll see.

    • colin

      The prospectus clearly states the intention of the funds raised — half to the debt, half to the Glazers. The only “wait and see” is if they can get the price they are looking for.

    • Alfonso bedoya

      Ungrateful??

      You sound like Alan Sugar… is that OK with you?

      Cause Alan Sugar is another slimy parasite.

  • colin

    The definition of eligible employee is “any person who is an Employee, a Consultant or a Non-Employee Director, as determined by the Committee” — why would the committee chose to elect other individuals, but not Fergie?

  • bman

    Ed — why do you always seem to be responding to posts that I can’t see? In this case, I don’t see anything by “truth teller” or “dyson”, but this happens quite frequently.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      bman – clear your cache. Either that or your ISP is caching.

  • bman

    Ed said:
    As for safe investment – United has grown 14% in three years. At that rate of growth you’d be better putting your cash in government bonds and that’s just about the least risky investment there is.

    14% a year is a terrific return, you’d have to be buying dodgy as fuck bonds to get close to that. Safer bonds, like t-bills, are currently running an appreciable amount below inflation, which means you’d be paying the US government for the privilege of them taking your money. The big question is whether the offer price in the IPO is right, if so I think it will be fairly successful.

    • colin

      Ed is referring to the 14% increase in revenues, not rate of return on your investment.

    • Stevie D

      14% a year is a terrific return. However, I read this as 14% over a three year period….not 14% per annum, for three consecutive years.

  • Andrew

    Question for Ed

    What do you think the exit strategy is for the Glazers now?

    Will a sugar daddy invest in the IPO with a view to paying the Glazer’s selling price? I mean the there must be a asking price the owners have in mind to cash in? They are certainly not in this business on sentiment.

    BTW you must be happy Owen has finally left?

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Andrew – no sugar Daddies in this round. It doesn’t appeal to ego – no voting rights – and is only 10% of the club anyway. But sale is the exit. Eventually the Glazers go. If the IPO fails they go quicker.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Ed said:
    bman – clear your cache. Either that or your ISP is caching.

    No, that’s not it Ed… there are two versions of some threads.

    For instance… with this article, there’s this version…

    http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/forum/topic/fergie-and-glazers-8216will-profit-from-ipo8217-to-leave-fans-angered#post_content

    Which bman is talking about…

    and this one…

    http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/latest/fergie-and-glazers-will-profit-from-ipo-to-leave-fans-angered/

    which has the posts that he can’t see…

    It’s the same for me… and it’s like I have to create a second version of Alfonso Bedoya, if I want to reply in the other thread from this one… it’s all very “twilight zone”, with multiple dimensions…

    • Damian Garside

      Alf: have you met this other version of yourself? It might create a time/space paradox resulting in a rift in the Universe which sucks the Glazers into a vortex. See, that’s all what’s left to us… poor SF fantasy

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Ah odd. I’m not sure why this is happening. It’s got to be do with caching.

      We did have a problem with the spam box before but I removed that from the forum.

      I’ll try and work it out.

  • AS

    I wonder if there is a parallel universe where the bskyb deal actually went through. It would have been intriguing to see what would have happened.

  • marlon

    Couple of questions – what is a ‘share option’

    And
    -”Ferguson may be among those senior personnel selected to be part of the 2012 Equity Incentive Award Plan, which will be funded from the further sale of 16 million shares in the club.” – Does that mean they sell more shares and give Fergie some cash, or do they just give him some shares? I also thought the IPO document said that after the IPO no shares could be sold for another 180 days, so how can this be a 2012 plan?

    • Stevie D

      Share option – it is an option to take shares instead of cash. If you have a £1m share option, you can either take it in the form of £1m cash, or take £1m worth of shares instead of the cash at the current share price. It’s usually used as a bonus payment. So when you received the bonus, you can opt to take shares or cash, it’s your choice.
      Either way, the shares are issued. So if you want the shares, you get them. If you want the cash, the said shares are sold on the open market, and you receive the proceeds. So the £1m cash would come from the sale of the shares, not from the clubs bank account. This is how it differs to a normal cash bonus.
      I hope I have not confused you.

  • bman

    I see what you mean, Alf. If I go to the homepage and follow the link for this story under “latest”, I see the whole thread, although I’m not logged in. But what I usually do is go to the forum, and look at the latest threads/comments, and I think that maybe when I do that I don’t see any comments left by people who go the other way.

  • marlon

    Thanks, very helpful – I assume that circumvents the whole no share sales for 180 days thing then. Also, that is a ridiculous bonus, by any standards, no matter what they have achieved – anyone know how many employees are in line to share this?

    Despite Fergie being a bit of a dick recently, it’s nice to think someone so tied to the history/success of our club could own a chunk.

  • bman

    Commenter said:
    Share option – it is an option to take shares instead of cash. If you have a £1m share option, you can either take it in the form of £1m cash, or take £1m worth of shares instead of the cash at the current share price. It’s usually used as a bonus payment. So when you received the bonus, you can opt to take shares or cash, it’s your choice.
    Either way, the shares are issued. So if you want the shares, you get them. If you want the cash, the said shares are sold on the open market, and you receive the proceeds. So the £1m cash would come from the sale of the shares, not from the clubs bank account. This is how it differs to a normal cash bonus.
    I hope I have not confused you.

    That’s not correct. An “option” is when you are given the opportunity to buy shares at a future date at a specified price. Usually the specified price is the current share price or thereabouts, therefore if the share price increases by the time your option vests, you’ve made money. Alternatively if the share price goes down, your options are fairly useless. Therefore options are usually only compelling forms of compensation to employees if there is a general expectation that the share price will go up, or in the case of start-up companies the possibility that if the company succeeds, then the options will be worth loads of money, far more than a small company could hope to pay in cash.

    So say when the IPO happens, Fergie might be given options along these lines: he’ll have the option to buy one million shares at $20 (i.e. the supposed share price on day 1) on 1 July next year, the option to buy another million at $20 (or a different price) on 1 July 2014, etc. Therefore, in theory Fergie has a financial incentive to make sure the team does well, thereby increasing the share value by this time next year. If we won the CL and the PL next season, maybe the share price would be worth $30 on 1 July 2013. That means Fergie would make $10 per share, for $10 million total if he exercised all his options. Obviously things get more complicated than that, but that’s the basic theory. You often see news stories where some company has hired a new CEO, and his got however many options than will vest in 5 years time or 10 years time. Therefore if he manages to increase the company’s share value, he’ll make a killing. It’s also a way of making (supposedly) valuable talent stay with you — if the new hire has a lot of options that vest in 10 years, he’s got a major incentive to stick around for at least ten years.

    This is why I am wondering if we might not see the club experiment with options to sign and retain key players. The next time Rooney negotiates a contract, the club could often him a certain amount of options at the end of every season for (hypothetically) 10 seasons. Perhaps the amount of options might even be linked to his performance, such as the amount of goals he scores, games he plays etc. Therefore in theory this could be a way for the club to compete with the likes of City and Chelsea who offer huge cash salaries to their players, and it would also help hold onto key players and cut down on the flirting with other clubs bollocks in the last 2 years of a contract.

    Although the short-term appeal of options for players would be competing with City on the cheap, long-term it might be interesting for the club, as you might gradually end up with a fair few former players and managers with an ownership stake in the club.

    • Stevie D

      Thanks Bman, I knew there wasn’t something right in my explanation!! Long time since my Business Studies days, it’s all long forgotten!! My bad.

  • marlon

    That makes more sense. So Fergie could still make loads of money but not the payout it seemed – the general consensus is that the shares are overpriced so value could go down. My outrage at Fergie taking a huge payout has diminished a bit.
    I like your idea – makes more sense giving them options than Fergie – he’ll come/go as he pleases.

  • marlon

    United would be a great business to invest in if it was debt free – which the 1st IPO would have gone a long way toward. If there is insufficient interest in the IPO, could the Glazers U-turn again and use all the money to pay off debt?

    Personally, I think it will sell well. I’ve seen so many reports and interviews saying how bad the Glazers are and how deep United are buried in shit, but the Glazers always seem to be able to make more money.

    • colin

      No, it explicitly states in the prospectus filed with the SEC that half will go to the debt and half to the Glazers. They would need an additional filing to alter where the proceeds will go.

  • bman

    marlon said:
    That makes more sense. So Fergie could still make loads of money but not the payout it seemed – the general consensus is that the shares are overpriced so value could go down. My outrage at Fergie taking a huge payout has diminished a bit.

    I like your idea – makes more sense giving them options than Fergie – he’ll come/go as he pleases.

    I’d be really surprised if Fergie doesn’t get offered any options since he’s the most important employee (or second most I suppose if you wanted to be really corporate and say Gill was the most important). But yeah, if the share price goes below the option price, then the options aren’t worth shit.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together… goo goo ga joob.

    • http://damiangarside.com Damian Garside

      With the shares people will think they are getting pornographic priestess but in reality it will be yellow mellow custard dripping from a dead dog’s eye

      great words from a (I beleive he was)Everton supporter now playing celestial tunes on a Rickenbacher harp.

  • Daniel

    Ed, a man with excellent writing skills such as yourself should know not to confuse “it’s” with “its’”…

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Daniel – a man with you excellent pedantry skills shouldn’t confuse misunderstand with a typo.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Commenter said:
    Ed, a man with excellent writing skills such as yourself should know not to confuse “it’s” with “its’”…

    Ahhh come on Mate… that’s just fuckin shite… get a hobby.

  • marlon

    Fergie hits back:
    “Being aware of the media coverage that is currently ongoing I felt, on this occasion, that I should make my position clear to the Manchester United fans.
    “In regards to suggestions that I have praised the Glazer Family because I stand to financially benefit from the proposed IPO, there is not a single grain of truth in this allegation. I do not receive any payments, directly or indirectly, from the IPO.
    “Ultimately, I run the football side of this club and in order to do this, you need backing from above.
    “The Glazer family have let me get on with my job, there is no interference or obstruction, only support.
    “My decisions and beliefs are not based around what is best for my personal financial gain. That is an accusation that insults me. If that was the case, I would have left Old Trafford a long time ago.
    “I am speaking out because I do not want a situation to develop whereby the media and other parties create a rift, however small, between myself and any Manchester United fan. I’ve spent 25 years of my life pushing this club forward and not only could I not have done it without those fans, I do it for them.”
    http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/sport/football/manchester_united/s/1585194_sir-alex-ferguson-speaks-out-over-manchester-united-share-issue
    Good to know. I believe him (re: he likes the glazers because no interference – he loves all the power), but ignoring the debt problem + ‘real’ fans comment still frustrating.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      marlon – I think the disconnect here is still serious. Ok we can take him at face value – he’s not in the “employee incentive scheme” (although, factually how could he be since the IPO hasn’t yet happened – a very key point). But he still doesn’t get why a great many supporters are angry with the Glazers. He doesn’t even acknowledge the premise. Which is very different to criticising the Glazers – nobody expects that now (should have happened in 2005). But he doesn’t even ackowledge the reasons why fans are angry. He’s said “fans have a right to voice concerns” but that’s not the same at all as acknowledging that £500 million has had an effect on the club, and on the fans who he claims he does his job for.

      • Steve

        Been grinding my teeth too long not to put something down. AF as Ed correctly puts it does not accept the premise of the point that the Glazers piling 500M of debt on the club in a highly leveraged buy outhas been in fact bad for the club.
        His comments about ‘real’ fans are astonishing for someone widely regarded as an expert in playing the media (I accePt previouslyfor the clubs benefit). Now also talking up the Glazers & buying RVP just seem self serving. It would be astonishing for him not to get a truck load of options. Again it could be a play on words that is at the moment he hasn’t received any OR that they now know the partial float isn’t going to plan after all it doesn’t look a good deal to me.
        What little respect I had for the man, not the manager , is gone.

  • Truth teller

    well well well,I wish the moronic fergie doubters would fuck off and support fc united with the rest of the traitors.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Truth teller – I’m not sure what a “moronic fergie doubter” is, but I’d like fans who think they have a right to dictate how other fans support the club should just “fuck off” themselves. Including you. Bye

  • colin

    Still think it was right to question SAFs role in the IPO–it was only logical to think SAF would be covered as a “key employee” in the employee incentive plan. I’m glad he’s come out and said he’s not included.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Colin – brings up another question though doesn’t it. If Ferguson isn’t a “key non-management employee” what is he?

      • colin

        Possibly another way to channel money to Glazers? Looks like “Eligible Employees” are determined by the Committee governing the plan. Wonder who makes up that committee? Surely a Glazer or two on there.

        • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

          colin – certainly, although I’m not sure I get the benefit to them of a convoluted share options scheme. If they want cash they can just sell shares to the market rather than offering themselves options. They’d be issuing themselves shares, which they already own.

  • Just1n

    Fergie is quick to speak to the media when his reputation is at stake and yet for the man who “cares” so much for the club he has fuckall to say about the split in the IPO funds which gives Uncle Malcolm a huge chunk of the cash. If he has time to talk shit about real fans and his reputation then he could easily have mentioned the fact that it would be nice if more funds raised go towards the debt. But that’s Fergie these days. A capitalist whore who panders to his master.

  • bman

    To be fair that’s a pretty categorical and impressive statement from Fergie.

  • BiscuitBarrell

    If Ferguson isn’t benefiting financially from the Glazer’s ownership, the IPO and the current transfer strategy I’ll be astonished. In fact I’ll expect to see pigs flying down Deansgate any day soon. It is incredulous to believe that given his previous behaviour with owners and the previous transfer policy he pursued prior to the takeover, that he doesn’t have a vested interest in the Glazers staying.

    Man speak with forked tongue!

    It may be a sign of how much the pressure is telling on them, rather than a sincere denial. Rich people have always found a way of transferring wealth without it appearing to be a “direct” transaction, relatives, offshore etc. Sales are down, they’ve overpriced the IPO and now Fergie’s put his foot in it and overstepped the mark with the little remaining hardcore fanbase.

  • marlon

    Ed – he hasn’t left much wiggle room when he said: “I do not receive any payments, directly or indirectly, from the IPO” so I’d be surprised if he did now benefit – whether he was due to or not. I genuinely believe he enjoys his dictatorship role so much that he is willing to support the Glazers despite their many evils.
    I find it very hard to believe that he doesn’t ‘get’ why we’re angry – I think he knows, but chooses to ignore it, because he’s happy with the status quo. In fact hasn’t he actually said that the debt hasn’t affected the team – although he avoided saying ‘club’ doesn’t that include transfers? In that case, he acknowledges it, but outright disagrees with us. If he is right, then all our transfer related complaints should be directed at him.

  • sidney

    Fergie said he spoke out about the IPO thing because he didn’t want to create a rift between him and United fans
    I bet he didn’t imagine this is how his final years in management would be – after 25 glorious years having to convince United fans that he’s not a money grabbing self serving cunt

  • Twisted Blood

    “I’d like fans who think they have a right to dictate how other fans support the club should just “fuck off” themselves.”

    Ed: Hypocritical much?

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Twisted – nah, that guy posted a series of insults (deleted) and got blocked for it. He should “Fuck off” from this site… don’t get what value people like that add to this community.

  • 19 and Counting

    Wow I’m surprised so many have turned on the gaffer after all that he has done for United over the years. I have been unhappy with some of his comments over the years but it’s obvious his hands are tied here. What is he supposed to do? Tell the Glazers to fook off or even quit? And if he leaves, what will happen to United then? No he cares deeply about the club and I’m sure it bothers him that the owners are cvnts and don’t share his love for United.
    But I do admit that our ‘attempts’ to sign Moura and RVP are BS and leave a bad taste in one’s mouth.

  • marlon

    As United fans we’ve been starved of any kind of info on what goes on since the Glazers arrived. Tends to lead to big overreactions when you get some scraps. We have a clear target for all the frustration/anger and Fergie seems determined to put himself in the middle – and by and large it has worked. The vast majority of MUFC fans have accepted the Glazers, as long as they’re not in the news and we’re winning. This is what happens when it falls apart.

    You could argue Fergie is trying to hold the whole thing together – fan protests + ownership issues would deter potential arrivals and maybe push some stars away, as well as the effect it could have on the pitch.

    We know so little, it is fairly easy to make arguments either way – all we have to go on is a few press conferences and annual accounts. You just get the feeling that Fergie has chosen a side – admittedly in the short term it’s the ‘safe’ option – but that doesn’t make it the right choice.

  • http://twitter.com/dosdamt Ben Hulston

    The part of that statement related specifically to the IPO smacks of an extremely carefully worded statement – because, of course, you don’t get any payment with share options. You get the option to purchase shares, at a certain date, for a certain price. There’s no payment element to that at all. Though, I fear, that’s largely my paranoia about this whole situation that’s making me read in between the lines.

    I am still genuinely interested to see what happens with the IPO and the debt.

    I wonder if Unky Malc and his minions will actually pay down the debt, or actually will just acquire the debt. Keeping the club in debt, to debt they actually own, is in their financial interest. They can just keep on milking the club that way without needing to pay a dividend.

    There’s a real catastrophe brewing here, has been for a long time – both on and off the pitch. Lacking depth of quality in midfield (until TC23 and Ando actually do it for a full season, they ain’t top class), and this debt / IPO financial mess, the club is looking like a stink pit only on the road to ruin.

    • ja

      I agree. There is a big difference between ‘I do not’ and ‘I will not’.
      Plus presumably, the share option wont be exercisable for a few years and beyond Ferguson’s retirement date, so rather than share options, he will get a lump sum pay off or pension top up etc when he retires in a year or two. The Cayman Islands can conceal any amount of creative accounting to reward him.

      Ultimately, if the manager is not a key employee, it shows what contempt the Glazers have for football, rewarding the suits like Gill, Woodward and those other wooden characters parroting crap in the roadshow presentation, rather than the man who made United so succesful.
      In the presentation they talk of transfer spend over past 10-15 years (rather than the actual Glazer years).
      They talk of players wanting to join United, which is now tenuous, with City, Chelsea far better bets for medals and money.
      They talk of ‘apparel’ and the big Asian markets with no mention of cheap knockoffs rather than the real thing.
      They make no mention of Ferguson’s departure, at 71 he cannot go on much longer.
      They talk of ‘content’ with no irony that onfield United is not a patch on the entertaining teams Ferguson has put out before. The aging Giggs, Scholes and Carrick or the youthful Hazard, Mata and Oscar?
      They make no mention of the debt sucking out so much money from the club, especially as the IPO barely scratches the surface of the debt.
      They make no mention of being left behind by RM, Barca, BM, Chelsea, City, PSG, the Russian clubs in terms of financial clout.
      Only an idiot would buy that presentation or shares.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    19 and Counting said:
    Wow I’m surprised so many have turned on the gaffer after all that he has done for United over the years. I have been unhappy with some of his comments over the years but it’s obvious his hands are tied here. What is he supposed to do? Tell the Glazers to fook off or even quit? And if he leaves, what will happen to United then? No he cares deeply about the club and I’m sure it bothers him that the owners are cvnts and don’t share his love for United.
    But I do admit that our ‘attempts’ to sign Moura and RVP are BS and leave a bad taste in one’s mouth.

    This… “his hands are tied here. What is he supposed to do? Tell the Glazers to fook off or even quit?”… this is the question most, who don’t understand the anger aimed at Ferguson, keep asking.
    But that’s exactly what I, and many expect him to do, and I don’t understand why that’s so hard to understand.
    Ferguson is/was a living legend for United fans… he could have written himself into football folklore, by taking a strong stance against the Glazers.
    Give it some thought… ask yourself, what would have been the fan reaction if Ferguson had come out a couple years back, when the Green and Gold was in full swing… when Beckham picked up the scarf… and said publicly that he’d “had enough working for the Glazers”, that, “their business model was wasting United profits to pay for debt, that never should have been piled on the club”… the fans would have adored him for it… and I honestly don’t think the Glazers would have had the guts to sack him for it… who knows what would have happened… but this idea that Ferguson is powerless to act is complete rubbish… he’s a free man to do whatever he likes… we can only speculate about what might have happened had he done such a thing… but the truth is this…
    Ferguson defends the Glazers… openly supports them and their plans for United… against the grain of the vast majority of United fans who openly loathe the Glazers and their ownership.
    No matter what he’s achieved with United, how can he, or anyone be surprised that he’s pissed off so many fans?

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  • Charmingman93

    Ed, not every person saying your article is disrespectful to Sir Alex, disagreeing with your position on this, is a “glazer fanboy”. Not every United Fan who is not “taking the stand” is letting down the club. Some people just want to watch their favourite team to play football, they don’t care about this economics bullshit, I’m sorry but it has come to the point now where I consider all this IPO and Glazer bashing as bullshit.

    Sir Alex has had to come out, because people like you calling yourselves “Fergie supporters” and “true united fans” have been writing shite like this because the IPO happened to say that employees could profit, not exactly specifying who those employees are. You called yourself a Fergie Supporter, it is on the comments here, if you were, why criticise him unfoundedly and attack him for supporting the glazers? They are technically his bosses, they could fire him as easily as Roman Abramovich fired Andre Villas Boas and all those before him. He can’t go about saying “I want them out” as he will lose his job, yet when he won’t say it, he has people like you crying over it. His working relationship with them suits him. They let him do his job. And we have still won trophies despite our debt and problems. I don’t particularly like the glazers but I don’t care about that at all. Go and support not chelsea but FC United you’ll be right at home with them lot.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Charmingman – This ‘Fergie can’t criticise the Glazers’ line is so fatuous. It’s lazy in fact. Let’s talk about 1996 when he threatened to quite before the Cup Final, or 2004 when he sued the majority share holders over money, or 1990s when he regularly criticised the PLC board when he didn’t get his way. In public. Ferguson is happy to put himself ahead of the club when it suits him. Always has been. Great manager, lack of integrity as a human.

      But this isn’t about Ferguson criticising the Glazers. It’s about him not trying to drive a wedge between him / the Glazers in one camp, and fans who care what happens to the club in the other. And you’ll notice in the article not once did I say he’d definitely benefit – just that it would be incredible as THE key employee at the club if he doesn’t. Seem the Glazers don’t think he’s that key.

      Let’s get another thing clear I’ve never called myself a “true United fan” – I don’t believe in labels like that, which in fact my earlier article about Ferguson’s “real fans” comment was all about. Your argument is worth absolutely nothing when you’re so desperate that you start making stuff up. Really pathetic.

      As for the last line. I don’t insult anybody on here because I like the debate and I’m happy to debate hard, but when when trolls like you think you’re so far up an ivory tower that you can tell people who to support… you know what you can do. It’s anatomically difficult. Goodbye.

      • Stevie D

        “It’s anatomically difficult” – where’s the “like” button when you need it?!

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Ed… have you seen this article?

    http://swissramble.blogspot.ch/2012/07/manchester-united-tuning-in-to-capital.html#.T_qniAqEdWA.mailto

    There is way too much financial frippery for me to get my head around, but it seems to me to be putting a positive spin on the floatation… then I noticed the date… I wonder if it still seems positive after the claim, the Glazers are keeping most of the money, and only putting £75mill on the debt.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      ALf – Yeah the picture changes totally when instead of swapping equity for debt reduction, it’s swapped for cash. But even more interesting is United’s commercial performance both in percentage terms and absolute versus competitors. Glazers not quite the miracle machine they’re made out to be. None of the new of course, but presented really clearly by Swiss Ramble. Add operational costs into the mix and United’s ‘growth’ under the Glazers is around 7%. And that’s before we talk about debt…

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    @ Charmingman93
    “They are technically his bosses, they could fire him as easily as Roman Abramovich fired Andre Villas Boas and all those before him.”
    That’s not the same thing at all.
    First of all… Chelsea fans love Abramovic… he bought the club outright, no debt, and has spent huge money to make them competetive, bringing trophies they would not have otherwise won.
    United fans loathe the Glazers, and THEY NEED Ferguson on their side just to keep the restless rabble from getting out of control.
    There is a very bitter relationship between the fans and the Glazers… with Ferguson in the middle… I realise now that, at some point he was always going to have choose a side… but he chose the Glazers directly against the hopes of the fans who have adored him for all these years… anyone who says he had no choice is full of shit… of course he’s got a choice. He could have stood with the fans, consequences be damned… personally I think the Glazers would lose a war against the fans, if Ferguson was on their side, but that’s irrelevent… even if they sacked him for it… that would have sparked absolute fury in the fans… huge protest… maybe even riots… but it would also have earned Ferguson a status among fans bordering on sainthood.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  • dozer

    Ed said:
    Colin – brings up another question though doesn’t it. If Ferguson isn’t a “key non-management employee” what is he?

    I think any contractor like Fergie wouldn’t reap any benefits. I think it’s only the salaried employees, the ones with the medical benefits, pensions etc. that can hope for some cash.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      dozer – He may be on a fixed term contract but he’s basically an employee. He’s on the payroll, pays PAYE, NI and United pays employers NI. I’m quite sure he accrues statutory holiday. He could take United to a employment tribunal if needed etc etc

      Anyway, wonder if we’ll ever find out who benefits from the scheme. Assume Gill, Bollingbroke, Woodward, Arnold… Glazer brothers? Hmm, maybe. Doesn’t seem to make an awful lot of sense issuing yourself your own shares.

  • bman

    Commenter said:
    Thanks Bman, I knew there wasn’t something right in my explanation!! Long time since my Business Studies days, it’s all long forgotten!! My bad.

    I’m no expert, but I think I have the general gist of it right.

  • Alfonso Bedoya
    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Alf – David Bick is a media whore happy to be quoted on any business-football story. Having said that the structure with just 10% being sold (and the Glazers keeping around 97% control) allows for a lot more equity to be released later. Full IPO? Maybe – but that’ll only come when the Glazers think they have maximised the value to be had. Until then they’ll milk the cow either by extracting cash, or releasing equity to the market, or both.

  • BiscuitBarrell

    Caughtoffside is the worst website I’ve ever read. The transfer speculation is preposterous and the don’t appear to research anything, and have no sources for their info. I think it’s just a scam to generate web traffic.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    uhhh… ok.