Man United’s huge debts a major worry for fans
Plans unveiled on Monday for Manchester United to raise £500m through a bond scheme will have done little to ease the concerns of fans at the Glazers’ running of the club.
The announcement came as the club announced pre-tax profits of £48 million for 2009 but left many sceptics claiming that the plan was simply redistributing the already gargantuan levels of debt.
The profit figure includes the world record sale of Cristiano Ronaldo for £80m and without it, the club’s loss would have been registered at £31m - £10.4m more than last year’s figure.
Of even more concern to fans should be the money paid in interest on the loans secured by the Glazer family to purchase the club in 2005 which amounted to £41.9m. Since the takeover, around £325m has been paid to service the interest on the loans, leaving the club severely financially disabled.
The figures are staggering, particularly as the club won the Premier League, League Cup, World Club Cup and were runners up in the Champions League last season, and with the side currently struggling to stay within touching distance of Chelsea in the title race and already out of the FA Cup, things are beginning to escalate.
Of course, Sir Alex Ferguson has weathered this kind of on field wobble before and you would not put it past him to rebuild an equally successful side, but to do so takes time and money; increasingly precious virtues in football.
Sir Alex has repeatedly stressed that there is money available for him to spend but the free transfer signing of Michael Owen spoke volumes of increasing austerity at United.
Tickets for Old Trafford, once almost unattainable are now relatively easy to come by and the waiting list for season tickets is a thing of the past.
The Club has sought to drain every possible pound from loyal supporters with a succession of season ticket increases but faced with the prospect of a rare trophy-less season and Britain’s own age of austerity, another rise next season could push many over the edge.
United are still a long way off becoming this decade’s Leeds United but the future looks far from certain. Ferguson will have to retire at some point and for whoever takes over, the transition period will be extremely tricky, particularly if funds aren’t forthcoming.
And with clubs like Manchester City prepared to underwrite large scale losses in order to achieve success, the future for the side who seemed to embody the colossal, leviathan nature of the Premier League appears riddled by debt, doubt and an all too real risk of decline.