Six years on, same old story



It is now six years since the Glazer family waltzed into Manchester United, encumbering the club with hundreds of millions in debt and incurring the wrath of a legion fans. In the intervening period the family has priced thousands of supporters out of the club, while many more have walked away in disgust. Yet, with the Premier League almost in the bag and a third Champions League final in four years to come, the protests of 18 months ago have died down and fans – at least those still attending Old Trafford – seem content with success on the pitch.

Ffan talk of finances has seemingly been refocused in recent months. After all, Premier League titles from 2007-9, and another heading towards Old Trafford in 2011, together with the 2008 Champions League, is a level of success equal to any other era in the club’s history.

Yet, six years after the Glazers’ extracted control of United their impact is felt more than ever. With £500 million worth of bonds piled on the club and a Payment in Kind (PIK) loan refinanced somewhere in the depths of Delaware, damage has undoubtedly been done to a 133-year-old institution. Not least the £300 million that has been lost to the club in interest and other fees during the Americans’ reign. With the Glazer family seemingly now entrenched at the club, United will continue to haemorrhage money up to and likely beyond the 2017 date on which the bonds mature.

The strained finances have necessitated massive ticket price rises, which on aggregate have increased 55 per cent since 2005. Meanwhile, United’s well-staffed London-based commercial department has sought exploit global sponsorship markets to the fullest extent in response. The club, as always over the past six years, is running just to keep still.

This much has been widely debated of course, with fans now conversant in the language of business that had rarely been witnessed at Old Trafford prior to the 2005 leveraged buyout. Indeed, the ‘green and gold’ protests were provoked by the January 2010 bond prospectus, which laid bare for the first time the extent of United’s debt burden. Short of exchange-rate fluctuations, little has changed in the total debt owed by the club in the intervening 18 months.

Yet, the anger felt by United’s supporters has quelled since its height last season. In part success on the pitch, with short-termism always likely to override long-term concerns, has distracted fans’ focus on money. Moreover, the failure of the so-called Red Knights to mount a realistic bid left many protesters feeling disillusioned, with the palpable inability of organised supporters’ clubs to maintain a protest movement a factor.

In this sense the club has won a public relations war. The dual mantra that the ‘Ronaldo money remains in the bank’ and ‘there’s no value in the market’ is now repeatedly aped by supporters. David Gill’s disingenuous appearance in front of a Parliamentary select committee merely one in a rash of repeatedly contradictory statements issued by the club that has seemingly been swallowed by those willing to listen.

It is the symbol of a fragmented support where many traditional supporters have been priced out of Old Trafford and replaced by the affluent, casual and transient. Perhaps the most distressing element of a sorry epoch in United’s history. The road from here to financial probity and a mutually respectful relationship between club and fans is almost certainly lost forever.

This summer promises more of the same, with another heavy marketing campaign expected while season ticket renewals are a stake. Inflation-rate price rises were predictably met with anger from supporters groups, although in truth the failure of MUST or IMUSA to arrange a widespread boycott during the past six years has negated their power to influence. It is unspoken, but both club and fan groups recognise that enough supporters will renew to prop up the regime.

In all of this the family has not been forced into heavy transfer spending, even in the wake of Wayne Rooney’s October revolution. With the Glazers’ position now set for the foreseeable future, it seems unlikely that the club’s strategy spending strategy will alter either. After all, Gill’s oft-repeated promise that ‘the Ronaldo money’ is still available for Sir Alex Ferguson to spend has not yet been fulfilled.

By contrast the policy to buy young, buy often and buy cheap, is seemingly still in place. It is yet to materially affect United’s chances, although the clubs has now slipped significantly behind rivals at home and abroad in terms of wages paid. While Ferguson, the ace in the family’s sleeve, remains in good health the Scot will surely continue to extract just enough from his charges to remain successful.

Competition is set to increase though. Cross town rivals Manchester City plans another summer of huge spending. City’s failure to sign Rooney last January still rankles in the boardroom. Meanwhile, Roman Abramovich’s lust for football has returned and Liverpool is once again resurgent under Kenny Dalglish’s management. Even Arsène Wenger has spoken of bringing experience into his spineless squad.

Arguably rivals’ failings this season will not be repeated. Six years on from the Glazers’ takeover we cannot be sure that the club has the financial muscle or boardroom will to meet yet another challenge.

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Comments

  1. If the others weren’t so bad, or unlucky, we would have fooked up this season long ago. Feargum will have to make the Ginger Twat see that our midfield is
    This 19th league win will go down in history as the one that slipped in.
    There again there is some justice in it tho…the Bindippers & the Bitters are still not good enough to take the Crown off us even if we do have a wank midfield.

  2. herbie simms says:

    We definately need to spend money for world class midfielders. Bringing in cheap unknown or untried players will not benefit the club. We will just end up sending more new players out on loan. SAF needs to step up and spend some of that money wisely. Glazers need to come up with at least 120 million to buy players. Some of that money can also be used to bring in world class youngsters for the academy team.

  3. chocolatteballs says:

    Sounds like my life at the moment.

    Borrowing from Tom to pay Harry.

    I presume we have exhausted all legal avenues by now.

    How do we rid them?. Hicks & Gillete actually wanted to leave , these dudes don’t. Its because they cant.

    Profits into bank debts, extra profits into Rooney’s pockets ,his agent’s and alot of other players and agents pockets.

    Harsh new Legal anti capitalist obligations for existing owners. Salary caps .

    Sugar could enforce these measures for the PL tomorrow and he’d actually do it for free, the dick.

    I couldn’t write an article like that. Impressive research and commentary.

  4. Oh please…
    That will be how many titles since the Glazers took over?

    Come on people, they are not the best but God knows they have allowed the Boss to get on with the job and we have won titles and cups and european finals along the way. Maybe someday when the recession in the world abates things might look up but at this point in time let us be grateful that INSPITE of it all we are still winning.

    Before the usual suspects come around wanting to strangle me, what am saying is that we do not have the best squad in the world but Real have won nowt of significance despite their huge outlay; City might not even win the FA Cup while the Stamford Bridge fans pay FAR more to watch their team play than our fans pay. The fans at the Emirates have not seen a trophy in nearly a decade yet they pay through their noses. So, relax is what am saying. Truth is that we can do very little about it.

  5. Inspite of, not because of.

  6. THAT was what I meant. So your point is?

  7. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    Buzzing can’t wait for the match to start.

  8. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Calvino said:
    Oh please…
    That will be how many titles since the Glazers took over?
    Come on people, they are not the best but God knows they have allowed the Boss to get on with the job and we have won titles and cups and european finals along the way. Maybe someday when the recession in the world abates things might look up but at this point in time let us be grateful that INSPITE of it all we are still winning.
    Before the usual suspects come around wanting to strangle me, what am saying is that we do not have the best squad in the world but Real have won nowt of significance despite their huge outlay; City might not even win the FA Cup while the Stamford Bridge fans pay FAR more to watch their team play than our fans pay. The fans at the Emirates have not seen a trophy in nearly a decade yet they pay through their noses. So, relax is what am saying. Truth is that we can do very little about it.

    Either you just don’t get it, or you just don’t care… and that’s very sad.
    “Truth is that we can do very little about it.”
    That is completely wrong… in fact, we are the only ones that CAN do anything about, but sadly, not enough of us will… too many have your attitude.
    Whether we win the double or nothing at all… the Glazers are squeezing the fans for every penny they can get… to pay THEIR bills… nevermind the team quality, or titles won… it just irritates my ulcers to know that.
    You can reason their ownership anyway you like Cal… “we’re winning anyway, so… blah, blah”… it makes me sick to know what they’re doing with OUR club, and OUR money… I don’t know about you Mate… but, I’d rather burn the money, than give it to them… and if enough fans thought the same as me… we’d have them out of United in one season.

    “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.”

  9. stainingred says:

    sheesh, this article sums it up perfectly.The harsh reality is there is a ‘new’ generation of United supporters who only know continued success. It maybe unfair to say they are Man Utd fans but they dont give a toss about the Glazers and will pay money without a second thought. The sobering thought is this can continue for as long as SAF is there because at the end of the day he is the embodiment of our club, and yet to his eternal shame will go done as the one who did nothing to stop the Glazers. I packed in my season ticket along with my son when the scumbag Glazers took over. They are everything that is wrong with the world in terms of greed and a reflection of what stinks about Americans who were responsible for the ‘world credit crisis’To the anti glazer fans who are still there in 000′s dont lose heart. When SAF packs in and United slip from their perch ( because sad to say they will )the glazers will still face hatred and vitriol and while they may have millions they are and always will be loathed by real United fans.
    LOVE UNITED HATE THE GLAZERS

  10. captainhormone captainhormone says:

    LKHF IS A MOVEMENT WORTH FOLLOWING TOO

  11. stainingred says:

    captainhormone, dont laugh too much but tell me what is LKHF,be interested to know promise you I aint taking the piss

  12. captainhormone captainhormone says:

    LOL

  13. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Fantastic… only on Rant.

    Over to you Knobby.

  14. This can only go well

  15. I think we all hope for the Glazers to sell to someone or some group that will not be forced to take the borrowing route that they have taken– one that still has all of us believing that the whole mortgaging of the club could produce a nightmare scenario. If they do not sell, then thyey need to put their money where their collective mouths are since we definitely need new players to refresh the team, or, at bare minimum, a truly great golakeeper and a brilliant midfield player (possibly one who combines the virtues of attacking player and ball-winner). For these 2 price should not be a consideration. Then we can look around for a couple of “value in the market bargains” and the team should be ready for the trials of the new season: and we can be sure that City, Liverpool and possibly Chelsea and Arsenal will be stronger or far stronger than they were this season. That’s just what I think: but I would love it if the Glazers sell before they drain so much of the blood out of this club that we end up wearing all white.

  16. G&G has failed. The amount of dopes walking around with a G&G scarf and an AIG/AON shirt is ridiculous.
    In my opinion, what needs to happen now is for MUST and whoever to re-focus the campaign to be about demanding fan ownership in the Club. Stop the debt talk, the ‘Die, Glazer, Die’ crap and focus on an issue that all PL clubs should be campaigning their boards for. In my view this will recieve far more positive coverage, sympathy and support from the likes of the Press, the FA, the PL, UEFA and the Govt.

  17. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Like the Renties/Bitters, etc, are going to support fan ownership.

  18. And as if the government are going to support fan ownership of private companies when they’re eager to sell off the NHS to their mates in business, cancel the Disability Living Allowance, cancel EMA etc.
    They were the only party who didn’t make a committment to look into football club ownership in their manifesto (not that those who did would stick to it like)
    And typically they don’t get a lot of votes from cunts who go to games either, so there is no political incentive for them to act against their beliefs and stop rich cunts (like themselves) acting like total bastards

  19. So you’ve not heard about the Parliamentary inquiry into football governance that’s currently ongoing then?
    The coalition agreement includes an undertaking to encourage the reform of football governance rules to support the co-operative ownership of football clubs by supporters, and our inquiry will consider the case for strategic Government intervention in the administration of professional football clubs.
    In so doing it will look at the scope for enhancing supporter involvement in decision-making processes and consider whether current regulatory processes – including fit and proper persons tests – are adequate.
    Questions
    Questions the Committee will consider, include:
    Should football clubs in the UK be treated differently from other commercial organisations?
    Are football governance rules in England and Wales, and the governing bodies which set and apply them, fit for purpose?
    Is there too much debt in the professional game?
    What are the pros and cons of the Supporter Trust share-holding model?
    Is Government intervention justified and, if so, what form should it take?
    Are there lessons to be learned from football governance models across the UK and abroad, and from governance models in other sports?
    Basically upon the results of this supporters of all clubs (bar la la land clubs like Chelsea and Citeh) – whether its findings are encouraging or not – should seize the moment to put as much pressure on the Govt., the FA and the PL as possible to get their arse in gear and change the governance of the sport and rules on the ownership of clubs.

  20. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Well, I can’t deny the idea in principal… anything that gets fans off their arses to demand more respect from clubs and their owners… I’d support nearly anything that would take power away from the Glazers and give it back to the fans…

    But the reality is, the Tories are in charge… and they don’t give a fuck about what you or I think… they are the party of the corporate rich, and old money.

    Look at Alliance Boots… in the news today… while the Tories are carving the working mans pay packet up like a christmas ham, and cutting public services like never before… Boots are getting away with outrageous tax evasion… some convoluted business practice means that, even though Boots made £1.1billion in profits… they pay only £25 million in tax.

    We are never going to see any real and meaningful change to the way football clubs are owned and run under the current government.

  21. Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Well, I can’t deny the idea in principal… anything that gets fans off their arses to demand more respect from clubs and their owners… I’d support nearly anything that would take power away from the Glazers and give it back to the fans…

    But the reality is, the Tories are in charge… and they don’t give a fuck about what you or I think… they are the party of the corporate rich, and old money.

    Look at Alliance Boots… in the news today… while the Tories are carving the working mans pay packet up like a christmas ham, and cutting public services like never before… Boots are getting away with outrageous tax evasion… some convoluted business practice means that, even though Boots made £1.1billion in profits… they pay only £25 million in tax.

    We are never going to see any real and meaningful change to the way football clubs are owned and run under the current government.

    Let’s get one thing straight. You’re not going to see any meaningful change in relation to ownership of clubs under any government, Tory or otherwise. Labour had long enough.

  22. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

  23. triggs said:
    So you’ve not heard about the Parliamentary inquiry into football governance that’s currently ongoing then?

    The coalition agreement includes an undertaking to encourage the reform of football governance rules to support the co-operative ownership of football clubs by supporters, and our inquiry will consider the case for strategic Government intervention in the administration of professional football clubs.

    In so doing it will look at the scope for enhancing supporter involvement in decision-making processes and consider whether current regulatory processes – including fit and proper persons tests – are adequate.
    Questions

    Questions the Committee will consider, include:

    Should football clubs in the UK be treated differently from other commercial organisations?
    Are football governance rules in England and Wales, and the governing bodies which set and apply them, fit for purpose?
    Is there too much debt in the professional game?
    What are the pros and cons of the Supporter Trust share-holding model?
    Is Government intervention justified and, if so, what form should it take?
    Are there lessons to be learned from football governance models across the UK and abroad, and from governance models in other sports?

    Basically upon the results of this supporters of all clubs (bar la la land clubs like Chelsea and Citeh) – whether its findings are encouraging or not – should seize the moment to put as much pressure on the Govt., the FA and the PL as possible to get their arse in gear and change the governance of the sport and rules on the ownership of clubs.

    I watched the Football Governance Select Committee on BBC Parliament and the Tory’s present asked some very good, spot on questions. But fuck all with come of it. Fuck all. It’s a total waste of time expecting anything from these cunts.

    There might be a lot of hot air – a lot of bullshit rhetoric abot GETTING TOUGH on dodgy owners and CLAMPING DOWN on rogue millionaires. But they’re just trying to look busy.

    Ideologically, the Tory MPs that matter don’t believe in the concept of ‘fan ownership’. You can see that clear as day in the decisons they have taken while in office.

    And Sheesh is spot on, Labour would do fuck all about the issue if they were in power. They sat by and let the Glazers take over United.

    The only way change will come about is to work outside the usual channels; to organize & fight etc. and you have to do that in spite of the police & the government who do nothing but throw spanners in the works of legitimate protest.

  24. LOVE UNITED HATE THE GLAZERS

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