When it comes to money, it’s all spin



Manchester United has £165 million in the bank and is bent on spending all of it strengthening Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad this summer. At least that’s the conclusion reached by the Manchester Evening News and 1,000 blogs today after director Joel Glazer broke a five-year silence to claim that the club has “sufficient cash reserves…for investment in the playing squad.”

The proclamation came just 24 hours after the club’s holding company posted £109 million losses at Companies House. Not that supporters should worry, despite the huge losses and near £600 million debt on the books, the Payment in Kind (PIK) loans “have been paid off.” It is the near universally repeated line in media coverage of Red Football Joint Venture’s finances this week. Proving once again that when it comes to United’s finances there’s lies, damn lies and the Glazers.

The massive losses included a £64.7 million charge to set up the bond last January and £30.2 million paid in interest on the PIK debt, which has since been mysteriously financed to the tune of £242 million. Indeed, the figures are in stark contrast to those of a year ago, which included income from Cristiano Ronaldo’s £80 million sale to Real Madrid.

Yet key questions remain unanswered before supporters believe the Glazer family is to invest heavily in Ferguson’s squad. Not least the bizarre fashion in which the PIK debt was “paid off,” although it is almost certain that the family refinanced the debt through an American holding company and then subsequently moved the company to super-secretive Delaware to hide the transaction from the British media. Whatever the source of funds, the family retains the right to take dividends from the club; £125 million and counting if the Tampa-based clan chooses to do so.

Then there is the question of spending, with the club investing far less under the Glazers than the previous PLC regime in both absolute terms and as a percentage of EBITDA. The much reported, yet never actually promised, £100 million plus summer transfer fund would break a five-year habit set by the family. Not least the club’s strategy of investing in young players with a high resale value.

The third strand conspicuously missed by MEN, whose contacts within the club are near non-existent according to those in the know, is UEFA’s financial fair play regulations that effectively come into play this summer. With United’s EBITDA revenues tempered by £45 million per season in bond interest payments it is inconceivable that the club will spend a hundred million or more on summer transfers. Unless there is a departure or two of course.

The spin is in marked contrast the strict ‘no value’ line oft-repeated by Ferguson last summer when the club invested in promising youngsters and not established stars. Indeed, the Scot has been fulsome in his praise of United’s scouts who picked up striker Javier Hernández for around £7 million up-front and further performance-based bonuses. It has been a brilliant piece of business. The less said about the £8.3 million spent on Bébé, the better.

Yet, invest United surely must, with domestic rivals Manchester City and Chelsea likely to spend heavily in pursuit of glory. And even if Ferguson’s reserve team is packed with promising talent, the squad will be at least a quartet short come the summer. With Edwin van der Sar retiring, Gary Neville already picking up his pension, Owen Hargreaves likely to be released and Michael Owen out of contract, a wealth of experience will be lost to Ferguson’s cause. Paul Scholes’ future is as yet undecided, with the 35-year-old mulling retirement.

Moreover, a second defensive injury crisis in as many seasons says much for the fragile nature of too many United stars. Rio Ferdinand’s injuries now fall into the chronic camp, Nemanja Vidic has an unfortunate fragility, Jonny Evans’ ankles seem unable to keep up with the Premier League’s rigours and Wes Brown has troubled the physio more often than the opposition in a decade at the club. Then there’s the immensely talented da Silva brothers, who have each suffered multiple injuries in the past two seasons.

The question of quality – one that Ferguson strongly rejects – is one that many supporters have asked too. It is, after all, hard not to conclude that this United squad suffers poor comparison with others during the Scot’s time in Manchester. Indeed, while Ferguson’s squad has performed admirably at home this season the greatest challenges now lie ahead. Recent defeats away to Liverpool and Chelsea surmised the Reds’ performances away from Old Trafford, with United’s record of four wins joint seventh best in the Premier League.

Not that United supporters should be concerned. After all, the Glazer family is about to lavish £165 million on the transfer market. MEN has said so!

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  • Bill

    Yep the Glazers can twist the numbers all they like – the fact remains that the Ronaldo money has never been reinvested. If they really want to prove that funds are available they will buy two 30 million pound players in the summer as well as 20 million on another one. Until that happens their words are as hollow as ever.

  • http://twitter.com/Sleepy_Nik Nik

    I’ve always looked at it pragmatically. If the squad has needed replenishing, Fergie has done so – and with aplomb. Close to 4 titles in a row, back to back CL Finals and competing on all fronts across most seasons tells its own story.

    Also think it a tad harsh to say that this squad has been one incomparable to ones gone by under the Scot; given that we basically have a similar squad to the one labelled his ‘best ever’ in 2009 – with CR and CT having moved on, and JH, Berba, Smalling, Valencia having come in; Nani, Anderson, Da Silvas, Evans, Welbeck all progressed beyond what we could have hoped for.

    On the whole however, you make a good point that the judgment will very much be at the end of the season, and indeed before August and the start of the new season, when a real assessment of the squad can be made.

    Just briefly then:

    Sign Wes up another 2 years – takes care of Neville and cover for RDS.
    Replace Edwin with Neur
    Bring on Smalling (for Rio if he cant maintain fitness – if he can, he’s still in top couple of CH’s in the world)
    Move on Hargreaves
    Sign Scholes one more year/joint coaching role
    Sign Berba 2 more years
    Send Gibson out on loan to Villa
    Bring back Cleverley
    Bring back Welbeck
    Bring on Cole/Pogba/Keane/Morrison

    ‘Replace’ Giggs – Sign a Sanchez or a Kaka, a Modric or even a Downing/Young.

    In short, relax – trust Fergie, arguably the greatest coach of all time and somebody who not only craves success, but lives for it.

    Cheers

    • mongoletsi

      Nik… are you on crack

  • RedScot

    There is a lot in that article to be pondered over.
    I would just like to laugh at the planned spending of that ridiculous amount of money.Where is this money?
    Its not the track record of spending on players that Glazer have provided to the manager or the fans to date, under their tenure at United, so why this fantasy. To cajole the season ticket holders in sticking with the team and faithfully tipping up your hard earned cash.Its a bit early for sending out the vibes that United are going to be stronger next year.I see around several forums some fans still beating their chests that all is well and hunky dory.They clearly have not watched the games you and I will have seen, and thought hells teeth we are hanging on bye the skin of our teeth.I feel we are running out of “Get out of Jail cards”.
    But lets just bury our heads in the sand and imagine what sort of team we could have if it were not for our fine owners.As many commentators have said, the waste of money on servicing those stupid stupid debts they have brought to United, we could be happily be putting a team on the park to confidently face Barcelona as an example, rather than in my case shitting myself that we avoid them.
    But the £165 million will rectify all, and pigs might fly.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    I can’t really discuss the Glazers without aggravating my ulcers… the fact is, after a couple of pints, and in a surly mood, I could quite easily go postal, and pound the fuck out of a Glazer apologist, should he stoke my fire with one too many explanations for why… the Glazers are actually fairly decent owners… and yes, I’m well aware that, that’s pretty silly.
    Anyway…
    All this detail about the finances, really doesn’t matter to me… I can’t get my head around it… and I’m not really looking for someone to explain it to me… I understand as much as I want or need to…
    The very real and simple truth is… Manchester United is not the same anymore… since the Glazers hijacked United, my football experience is less enjoyment, more frustration.

    “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.”

    • RedScot

      Well said Alf, am enjoying a Cider as well, I saw the post as well obviously but I saw cheers, at the end of his/hers post so I new they would not go toe to toe.
      Enjoy your night mate.Off to the pub. lol

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    “I’ve always looked at it pragmatically. If the squad has needed replenishing, Fergie has done so – and with aplomb. Close to 4 titles in a row, back to back CL Finals and competing on all fronts across most seasons tells its own story.”
    See… the problem with that outlook, is you make it sound as if that was down to the Glazers… you seem to forget that there was a team in place, that was rather good, before the Glazers got their hooks in.
    BUT…
    Since then… the team has slowly but surely become worse … not that it’s all the Glazers fault… Ferguson has made some strange signings, and any team would take a couple steps backwards after losing a player like Ronaldo… but ultimately, we have NOT improved… and we should have.

    “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.”

    • mongoletsi

      wtf?

      Hint: Hit “reply” and give us a fucking clue which bits are the original. It’s not hard.

  • thedubdemon

    this all feels very familiar. except last time the team went through a transitional period it was fergies head ‘fans’ wanted on a plate. this time round its the glazers.

    not that im a glazer apologist (so no need to spit your dummy out).. theyre leaches and the £45m a year they cost the club will hurt us what with the FFP rules coming in (although not as much as it will city OR chelsea.. you cant have it both ways ed!)

    but i dont buy into all this impending doom and ruin crap everyone seems to enjoy spouting. having won 3 titles on the bounce and losing the best player in the world (glazers or no glazers, he was going), we were always going to face a few difficult years while fergie rebuilt the team. the fact that we currently sit top of the league, in the latter stages of the CL and FA cup suggests that the team about to emerge might just be fergies greatest ever.

    but for that to happen, we need to know which of our current crop can be united players. say we blow £50-odd million on a CM.. what does that say to anderson and cleverly, both of which have made decent progress this year? and what message does that send to the players in the youth team?

    im sure theres some dead wood to shift in the summer, and hopefully a few promising, young replacements. but fergie will spend time deciding which of his current youngsters can do a job, then he will blow whatever money is in the bank filling the gaps. and no amount of whining by the fans or the tabloids will change that.

  • Twisted blood

    Cheers Nik. Let’s have a little optimism here. We’ve had weak transfer efforts in the close season before (Alan Smith, Park) and suspect central midfields before (Giggs/O’Shea anyone?). I’m inclined to trust in Sir Alex. He clearly does not want to retire and I doubt he’d preside over a sinking ship in his twilight.

    As for the article, I’m inclined to believe the spending will not approach 100 million but some young good players will be purchased ( Chamberlain, Rodwell, Defour) and we will all complain that the net spend is still way out of whack. However I also do not believe the sky is falling and that there is spin on both sides of this argument. Most of the hits we took this year were one-offs, the Glazers have the right to take the 125 mil out but haven’t and we don’t know how the PIKs were refinanced full stop. Everybody’s got a take on this and that what makes it interesting supporting the reds. Maybe Bebe will come good? Like I said, optimism.

  • captainhormone

    tbf we are shit…i blame the glazers

  • sheesh

    The Manchester Evening News used to be really good for football stories when David Meek was covering United. Sadly, it is full of inane drivel nowadays and it’s standard of coverage is barely any better than the average red top newspaper.
    I remember the season we did the double in 1993-4. They published a souvenir edition paper which had every single match report from the season. I must have spent hours upon end reading each report from cover to cover.
    You used to be able to get the Pink paper every Saturday evening back then as well.
    Those were the days….

  • andrew

    We’ll buy in the summer – probably some young unknown who goes on to be shit and have an attitude that stinks. Someone like Fuckadoodle Macheda for example.

  • bman

    TBF injuries make the team look worse than it is. All teams have injuries, but we really do seem to have more than our fair share the past few seasons, especially in defence. Is it just chance? Is it our medical team? Is it our training program? Do we just “play harder”? Age doesn’t seem like enough to account for it by itself.

    I think our team would have looked much more fearsome this season if a few of Rooney, Rio, Tony V, Evans, or dare I say it Hargreaves had been consistently in top physical condition.

    So I think our squad is definitely not good as it should be, fuck the glazers, but it’s also better than most people give us credit for. After all, at a certain point the results have to speak for themselves.

    Surprised the MEN doesn’t have good contacts in the club, incidentally.

  • far far away guest

    hhhh… excuse me..can you change the picture??.. glazer pic is is classified as disturbing picture.

  • herbie simms

    If they have 165 million in the bank, the Glazers need that money. They are not going to spend all that money on players, that will create more debt. SAF will have to sell some of his below par players and from that money buy a few players. May have to sell Rooney for 60 million and then he can buy 4 players, average 15 million a player or three 20 million pound players. Get 3 for one.

    • mongoletsi

      You reckon Rooney will fetch £60m? He’s playing shit and Torres was £50m.

      £40m would be a very good price.

  • Victor

    Slow week, slow news. Berbatov and Glazers, same ol’ same ol’.

    Talk about something new. Did you see Cleverley’s goal for Wigan? He was in a striker’s position. Isn’t he supposed to be a CM?

  • kramer

    is he? i thought he was an attacking midfielder who plays on the wing.

  • Spike

    captainhormone said:
    tbf we are shit…i blame the glazers

    I blame you…and that Tsunami

    Where the fuck are the topics from you, as in “Why so serious”..you getting old?

  • captainhormone

    Spike said:
    I blame you…and that Tsunami

    Where the fuck are the topics from you, as in “Why so serious”..you getting old?

    no, but you are

  • emuchacha

    man u if dis is true sign Mariga £10mil, sanchez £25mil, adler £13mil, modric £25mil+carrick and sell or loan gibson out, sell kuzchak 4 £8mil.
    bring back tom cleverly, macheda, diouf. allow welbeck to stay 1 more year.
    promote tunniclife, pogba, morrison and cole.

  • eddieTheRed

    Just a thought but if United spend £165 million in one transfer window they could end up buying too many players in one go; too many players is almost as bad as none at all; look at City; the squad is never settled!

  • eddieTheRed

    Speaking of the Glazers, has anyone else seen this story yet?

    http://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/manchester-united-suing-antiglazer-supporter-2592770.html

    Do any of you know Thomas McKenna?

  • Triggs

    United will spend, not because of this supposed £165M in the bank, but because so many experienced players are leaving this summer. It won’t be a huge net spend, but it will be bigger than the last two summers. I expect at least one 20-30M purchase (experienced CL quality) plus some youngsters.

    Fergie has spoken about the importance of the squad “having the right mix”. Letting the likes of VDS, Brown, Nev, Hargo, Scholes, Owen all leave at once and replacing them with only youngsters just ain’t going to happen. I hope!

    If Scholes retires, anyone fancy getting Pirlo in on a free?

    • Triggs

      Oh and obviously some decent wedge on a GK too

  • Geno
  • http://none ian

    Yes we are at the mercy of the Glazers but we are also at the mercy of SAF. It seems pretty clear to me. We need a:
    GK This wil NOT strengthen the team. I hope it is De Gea.
    CB ditto . Rio is too unreliable & Vidic is no Steve Bruce. Must be experienced. Cahill?
    CM COULD strengthen the team a lot. Suspect someone with experience. So not Pastore??? or Costa. Perhaps De Rossi would fit the bill.
    Something like £70m, for top quality & that is what we need. Really can’t see SAF or the Glazers going into the £40m+ category.

  • Ted

    Blog Commenter said:
    this all feels very familiar. except last time the team went through a transitional period it was fergies head ‘fans’ wanted on a plate. this time round its the glazers.

    not that im a glazer apologist (so no need to spit your dummy out).. theyre leaches and the £45m a year they cost the club will hurt us what with the FFP rules coming in (although not as much as it will city OR chelsea.. you cant have it both ways ed!)

    but i dont buy into all this impending doom and ruin crap everyone seems to enjoy spouting. having won 3 titles on the bounce and losing the best player in the world (glazers or no glazers, he was going), we were always going to face a few difficult years while fergie rebuilt the team. the fact that we currently sit top of the league, in the latter stages of the CL and FA cup suggests that the team about to emerge might just be fergies greatest ever.

    but for that to happen, we need to know which of our current crop can be united players. say we blow £50-odd million on a CM.. what does that say to anderson and cleverly, both of which have made decent progress this year? and what message does that send to the players in the youth team?

    im sure theres some dead wood to shift in the summer, and hopefully a few promising, young replacements. but fergie will spend time deciding which of his current youngsters can do a job, then he will blow whatever money is in the bank filling the gaps. and no amount of whining by the fans or the tabloids will change that.

    “This could be Fergies best team ever?”

    If we won the treble, the world cup, the grand national, The Isle ‘o’ man T.T. and i’m a celebrity get me out here, it would still be the worsed United team we’ve had in probably 20 years. Just a case of “if you can’t be good, be lucky”.

    Bouncing from game to game biting our nails regardless of the opposition is not a good thing. Luck does’nt last for ever.

  • http://www.visual-intrusion.com Robbo

    Blog Commenter said:
    Speaking of the Glazers, has anyone else seen this story yet?
    http://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/manchester-united-suing-antiglazer-supporter-2592770.html
    Do any of you know Thomas McKenna?

    Bit stupid to post the database of corporate clients of a company on the Internet regardless of how honourable your reasons are isn’t it. Would anyone here accept that happening if they had a company and this happened, whether suing the person is the correct way to go about this I cant say.

  • odbpowell

    We’ll be fine. Reminds me of 2005 when the press were calling for Fergie’s head and the fans were demanding big buys. That summer we bought Carrick and the rest, as they say, is history. Fergie knows what the squad requires better than any of us. We don’t NEED to spend big to make the team tick. An astute purchase here, another over there — we need tweaks rather than revolution. I mean, Christ, we’re still in the three biggest competitions aren’t we?

    Valencia being back has already made us play a little better. At last we have a right winger who knows when and how to pass the ball.

  • andrew

    Harsh on Nani Odb….how do these two play in the same team anyway?

    Onto other topics, getting rid of Roo just creates another massive hole to fill….Berba should go unfort as should Gibshite. We then have to cough up for a player like Modric who can play with the likes of Ando and Pogba when he comes through (he is gonna be some player). Meanwhile Jack Rodwell will play the DMF role next season when we buy the cunt from Everton.

    Left wingers anyone?

    • eddieTheRed

      Victor Obinna; for the umteenth time!

  • http://www.AlfonsoBedoya.ep Alfonso Bedoya

    Just been looking at the glazer foundation website. I think they might be telling the truth abbot the transfer war chest. I honestly believe they are good people who want the best for us. After all, why would they let one of their business’ go to the wall? Lets all unite and get behind the club.

  • andrew

    Lol who the fuck’s Vinnie Obinna?

    • eddieTheRed

      Inter Milan player on loan to West Ham; he’s been a bright point for them in an otherwise poor season; fast, physically strong; creates and scores goals; has 3 Prem goals and 3 assists (in a poor team).

      Rafa Benitez brought him to Inter and loaned him out to the Hammers to round him out as a player with the intention of bringing him back to Italy; he ran United ragged when they hammered us at Upton Park in the Carling Cup.

      I just think he would fit in at United; if not him then try Alexis Sanchez of Udinese with 12 goals and 5 assists in 27 games in a good Udinese team; Obinna would be fairly cheap to buy but Sanchez would be £20 million plus; there’s a lot of English teams after him!

  • andrew

    hmmm, sounds a fair bet.

    isnt Sanchez a right sided player though? Thought that’s where he lined up for Chile

    • eddieTheRed

      You’ve got me there – I thought he was left – footed!

      • Andrew

        It’s not clear anywhere but I think he might be LFd but plays on the right and cuts in – bit like that cunt Arjen Robben….

        • Triggs

          Sanchez is right-footed. I think his stock has risen so much this season that United will no longer be interested. He’ll cost more than £30M now.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Blog Commenter said:
    Just been looking at the glazer foundation website. I think they might be telling the truth abbot the transfer war chest. I honestly believe they are good people who want the best for us. After all, why would they let one of their business’ go to the wall? Lets all unite and get behind the club.

    ED!!!

    You said you’d deleted this cunt!

    This is not, “THE ALF”!

    Some cunt, is using my name to wind me up… and Ed said he’d sort it out… instead he deleted MY post that said, this cunt… is a “CUNT!”

    THE REAL ALF IS NOT HAPPY!!!!!!!

  • captainhormone

    the real alf is never happy…unless he is masturbating whilst eating chips, and watching gay porn…or the accused

    those who were there will know….lol

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Deserved it.

  • herbie simms

    You know sometimes when I read Fergie’s comments, I begin to wonder if its the Glazers or Fergie himself. Now and then he will say there is no player out there worth the money and then Gill will come out and say Fergie has money and he can buy whoever he wants. So what is the truth? Is Fergie trying to prove to the world how good he is by taking medicore players and turning them into world champions? Is he on some ego trip?

    • Andrew

      But Herb those two views aren’t really contradicting one another….it can still be toeing the party line (which ultimately SAF has to do if he wants to keep his job) but keeps the fans living in hope so that there isn’t more uproar at what the dwarves are doing…

      “Yeah we’ve got money but there isn’t any value so we aren’t spending it especially when we’ve got such a good squad” sounds better than “Yeah the Glazers are cash cowing the club, milking it for all its worth. We’re fucked.”

      Not only would like piss every fan off but makes UNited a target for any decent player we’ve got (they know we’ll sell) and then the players themselves get fucked off because there isn’t any ambition so they agitate to leave…

      I’d say it’s not Fergie given his record of shelling out big for players in the past. Nay son, there’s no money to spend on players unless we sell the likes of ROoney to subsidise a reinvestment in the squad….

  • brianofnazareth

    Blog Commenter said:
    Just been looking at the glazer foundation website. I think they might be telling the truth abbot the transfer war chest. I honestly believe they are good people who want the best for us. After all, why would they let one of their business’ go to the wall? Lets all unite and get behind the club.

    Thinly veiled as ” I have my head in my arse for the last 6 years!” post IMO

  • kramer

    new alf >>> old alf

  • captainhormone

    kramer said:
    new alf >>> old alf

    hmmm

    kramer vs kramer

  • Spike

    ffs
    you saw the film?

  • captainhormone

    err

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    kramer said:
    new alf >>> old alf

    And there you go… another Glazer fan boy comes out.

    It’s the stink of piss in his ginger pubes innit?

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