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Glazers raise more questions than answers

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David Bond | 15:44 UK time, Friday, 25 February 2011

For the second time in nine months Manchester United used their quarterly financial results today to issue a 'not for sale' statement on behalf of their American owners, the Glazer family.

The latest move comes after persistent reports linking Qatar Holdings or members of the Qatar Royal Family with a possible bid to buy out the Glazers.

Qatar Holdings has already issued a denial and today United insisted: "The owners remain fully committed to their long-term ownership of the club. No discussions have taken place. Manchester United are not for sale and the owners will not entertain any offers."

So that is that then. But what else would you expect them to say? If a deal is really being negotiated between the rulers of the country, with the richest per capita population in the world, and the Glazers, they would be extremely unlikely to tell us about it.

But there are a few things to consider here.

While it might irritate them, the continuing speculation is hardly bad news for either side.

For the Glazers it suggests interest in the club, driving up the market value (I shall return to this in a minute) and maybe helping them with financing other parts of their business empire in America.

For the recently appointed 2022 World Cup hosts, Qatar, it shows they are stepping up their interest in football - and what better way to follow up their great Fifa coup than by buying the world's most famous football brand?

All the media speculation (and yes, I know I am now contributing to it here) is also good news for the bond holders who bought into United's £500m refinancing in February 2010. Bonds are trading at 10% above the 98p price at the time of the issue and are proving extremely popular in the market.

In fact, United revealed today that they had spent £24m of their own cash on buying some of the bonds back.

The Glazers have been subject to sustained protests at Old Trafford

The Glazers have been subject to sustained protests at Old Trafford

But for all the denials and theories surrounding the takeover speculation, the key question is this: What are United really worth?


When the Red Knights asked investment bank Nomura to look into this last summer, it decided it wasn't worth more than £1bn.

According to reports then, and now, the Glazers want at least £1.5bn - giving them a £700m profit on their purchase in 2005.

That, it seems, is a price no one is willing to pay. If they were, we would not be reading endless trails on the back or business pages - it would have just happened.

As the excellent Andy Green points out on his andresred blog, United's operating profits, or EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), are about £105m. Recent market estimates suggest eight or nine times that is a good price. So, if that holds true, United are worth nearer £1bn than £1.5bn.

Today's numbers also demonstrate that United's turnover is steady in all areas except commercial income which grew by 30% in the quarter to the end of December 2010. This is again a tribute to the Glazers' international commercial strategy but with media, matchday and other areas not generating much more cash and staff costs (players salaries) still going up, where is the growth in profits to justify a £1.5bn valuation?

One other quick question to ponder. City experts tell me it is entirely sensible to use spare cash to buy up some of the bonds, as United have done today. Interest is payable at 8.5% on the bond while keeping cash is worth just 1% at today's low interest rates.

But the club had cash reserves of £134.5m at the end of December. The assumption had been that the money would be used, in part, to pay of the £249m of expensive PIK loans. In the end the Glazers found the money from somewhere else.

So what are United keeping the money back for? Is it to pay dividends to bond holders? Is it to pay the Glazers back themselves? Or is it to finance a big spending spree on players in the summer?

As ever with the Glazers, the more we find out the less we seem to know.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    If United do get taken over by the Qataris.. That spells trouble for my club Chelsea. They'll be literally blown out of the water by the Qatari Royal family. They wont stop at anything to make Man Utd the best and biggest sporting club in the world if it isnt that already.

    Expect them to go head on major transfers with Man City if they become owners. Money is no object for these rich middle eastern men. They just want the world to know they're filthy rich and they're not afraid to spend a bit of loose change of transfers!

  • Comment number 2.

    Apologies for the mistakes in my above paragraph!

  • Comment number 3.

    If it deos happen I cant help but think it is just so the Qatari's can upstage the ruling family of Abu Dhabi.

    Saying that, it proves that football is , aside from petrodollars, completely destitute. What kind of business is it that going forward ultimately means that you sit and pray you are bought by a ogilarch/sheik/filthy-rich-dude to splash cash on?

    NFL style reform badly needed, and non one will listen until a manu/real/milan goes to the wall under a sea of debt trying to keep up.

  • Comment number 4.

    Weezer.


    In the last year, Qatar have won a World Cup & a Sponsorship deal with Barcelona. They are desperate to get their name out there in the world.

    This is why they want Man Utd. I doubt they love Utd but which owner does.

    I personally think they like the limelight that is given to the Abu Dhabi owners of Man City and they want the exact same limelight but on a bigger massive scale.

  • Comment number 5.

    Now we hear that the Glazers have committed to keeping the club. I couldn't be happier for Utd fans :)

  • Comment number 6.

    i think its important that the qatar royal family takes over united. we need funds to replace giggsy scholes and the ageing rio. We need creativity in the middle and it only comes at a cost. We need to buy a sneijder or kaka to sustain the challenge posed by other big teams such as chelsea arsenal and city in epl and barca etc in europe. Are glazers willing to invest?....im not too sure

  • Comment number 7.

    I really hope the Glazers don't sell. And I can't wait for the financial fair play rules to come in. It's obscene, all this business of oil barons with more money than sense trying to buy their way to the top of the game. I just want it all to end already, and if that means a big name like Man Utd or Milan or Real Madrid has to go into administration, so be it. Bring on the revolution.

  • Comment number 8.

    When the Glazers default on their loan we'll see how Man U are dragged through the same route as Liverpool have been.

  • Comment number 9.

    The Glazers will sell for the rite price, they would be daft not too. I work very closely with some very good sources at the club and have been informed that the money used to buy back some of the bonds was indeed not from Utd or the Glazers but from a third party. If what i have been told is true then this money was from a down payment made by said third party. This is of course a rumour for everyone to dislike and destroy on here but its from a good source (like they all are)!! We will see in the summer as this is when a deal will be (apparently) done.

    I am a Utd fan and i cant stand the Glazers and what theyre doing to the club. I have taken the only action i can and have not put a penny into the club since the takeover so i hope the above is true. I also understand waving a green and gold scarf sitting in my £800 a season seat will do nothing to shift the Glazers.

  • Comment number 10.

    I've lived in Qatar for 15 years now, and when things are rumoured here between certain people, it ends up happening. The rumour here is that Qatar will buy Manchester United, so I'm honestly waiting for it to happen now. In early winter Utd came to Qatar to train as it was too cold in the UK, and said they loved it. Ferguson also came again in December I think it was, on his own. Coincident? Watch Man Utd become Qatari, it's going to happen. Qatar's trying to get it's name out in the football world, and slowly slowly bit by bit, it's getting there. The things they've got planned are insane, nearly look impossible, but these guys are amazing and 2022 is going to blow you all away!

  • Comment number 11.

    "he money used to buy back some of the bonds was indeed not from Utd or the Glazers but from a third party. If what i have been told is true then this money was from a down payment made by said third party."
    __________________________________________________

    Yeah, well my close contacts at the club tell me that the money was the Glazers cut from the Green and Gold campaign. Apparently the whole thing was the brain child of Glazer the younger, who got his seed money from the Spirit of Shankly group in Liverpool.

    After two years of sales, and after paying back SOS, the remaining funds were more than ample to:
    - pay Rooney's new salary for the probable duration of his career at United
    - pay off the PIK loans
    - buy back a portion of the bonds

    However, Glazer the Elder was quite incensed by the whole setup, cutting off his progeny's allowance for the foreseeable future, this in turn will fund the summer transfer kitty, while further proceeds of the Green and Gold campaign will go directly into the family accounts, as that is not strictly a club activity.

    If you're going to peddle conspiracy theories Kida, at least put a little bit of effort and creativity into them please...

  • Comment number 12.

    David, the quality of that piece belongs in a tabloid, not the BBC:

    1. Both the Glazers (twice) and the Qatari's have stated no talks have taken place, yet your comment is "What else would you expect them to say?" Do you really believe both sides have decided to issue official statements which are lies? What benefit is there for them to want to incur that reputational damage?

    2. "All the continuing speculation is good for both sides." If that is what you believe, neither side had any need to issue a statement as the media constantly churn out drivel on this issue whenever they have nothing else to write about - whether or not any statement has been issued.

    3. "The key question is "What are United realy worth?". That's not the key question at all - its "Is there a willing seller?" With revenue increasing, net debt declining and the Glazer's PIK's now repaid / refinanced, there appears to be no pressure on the Glazers to sell - so the question of current value is utterly irrelevant.

    Bottom line, if the Glazers, as it appears, believe United will only get more valuable over time, and are under no pressure to sell, the media had better find some new "insights" to retain any respect from readers.

  • Comment number 13.

    I think the Glazer will hang on to man u for the simple reason it makes money they will only sell when they can't pad their pockets. At the moment man u are competitive but what happens when Ferguson retires i don't think they will crash and burn but in the transitional period they may struggle for trophies especially as the financial fair play may be in place hamstring the new manager. Thats when i think they may sell

  • Comment number 14.

    @ 7: If a "big" club has to go to the wall before the rules are changed, let that big club be yours instead.

  • Comment number 15.

    13. At 9:51pm on 25 Feb 2011, demonicmike wrote:
    I think the Glazer will hang on to man u for the simple reason it makes money they will only sell when they can't pad their pockets. At the moment man u are competitive but what happens when Ferguson retires i don't think they will crash and burn but in the transitional period they may struggle for trophies especially as the financial fair play may be in place hamstring the new manager. Thats when i think they may sell


    --------------------------------------------------

    Wouldnt it make sense to sell now while they still have Fergie in charge. Rather than later when Fergie is gone and they maybe do not challenge for trophies in the same way. Wouldnt that bring the value of the club down. Not winning the title for a few years? Not saying this will happen but makes sense to sell now rather than later.

  • Comment number 16.

    Estimating what United is worth is pretty pointless, it's like putting an accurate figure on a newly discovered Van Gogh. The club is worth what someone is prepared to pay, and there is always some collector happy to wow the crowd by paying over the top for his one of a kind purchase.

    Likewise, estimating the clubs worth on operating income makes little sense in a world where a group from Abu Dhabi can spend over £1 billion on Manchester City, a club living in a rented ground, with £121 million losses and with little chance of turning that into a profit at any time soon with a massive wage bill exceeding turnover, and UEFA upcoming restrictions on unfair market value middle eastern sponsorships.

    Based on those sort of decision making, £1.8 billion for a company making over £100 million a year operating profits seems like a bargain, and that sort of return is still better than you'd get out of a bank at the moment, along with the associated global plaudits of being the owner of Manchester United.

  • Comment number 17.

    A couple of posters have mentioned the Financial Fair Play rules.... what have they got to do with United?.... if any club is going be untouched by FFP its United.

    FFP links expenditure to income.... United has the biggest capacity, gates and income in EPL... therefore will be unaffected in anyway.

    Chelsea and City won't throw cash around so freely as before... but in now way will FFP level the playing fields.... quite the opposite, smaller clubs will have to spend less, have weaker squads, be less competitive.

    FFP is almost a 'protect the rich' scheme that stops smaller clubs ever trying to chase the dream

  • Comment number 18.

    Money this, money that, Is football still played in England?

  • Comment number 19.

    The ordinary fan looked at the financial men and then at Premier League football and then back at the financial men again. Already it was impossible to tell the difference.

  • Comment number 20.

    BIG NEWS Premier League is to be renamed the GORDON GECKO LEAGUE!

  • Comment number 21.

    "Chelsea and City won't throw cash around so freely as before... but in no way will FFP level the playing fields.... quite the opposite, smaller clubs will have to spend less, have weaker squads, be less competitive."

    It isn't intended to level the playing field. It's intended to re-assert the link between how financially successful a club is, and how much it can spend. So, yes, if the big clubs are well run, they will be able to spend more. They will make more money by being better supported, having more fans, and so on. That's how it should be, no? It will also prevent clubs being wrecked by megalomaniacs "chasing the dream." Remember Leeds?

  • Comment number 22.

    I definitely do not know the in's and out's and if I did; I would hardly be discussing it here, but I have it on buzz word from somebody I have no reason not to trust pretty much solidly that 'events' are happening in the way of a massive fund transfer in terms of Man U as a business asset.

    I have no axe to grind personally, but to me United have to remember where it matters most (on the pitch). I respect Alex Ferguson (what football fan couldn't if they were honest?), but never want to see United do 'well'.

  • Comment number 23.

    They are holding the money to buy Lionel Messi.




    I wish.

  • Comment number 24.

    #17 - You're entirely right. I'm a Liverpool fan, and we have potentially a lot to gain from FFP, so in many ways I'm looking forward to the implementation. On a personal level.

    In terms of the game though, it's a disaster. I have a mate for example, who's a Blackburn fan. He saw his club win the league relatively recently, and whilst he knows those days are long gone, he at least had some hope of a consistent top 8 challenge in the future, with the Venky's group maybe putting a bit extra cash in here and there. Whilst it's true that they'll help selling the club to new fans overseas, these rules will effectively mean his club are screwed. Their geographical location in a traditional hotbed of football limits their domestic fanbase, paradoxically. Blackburn will never be a Man Utd sized club no matter what they do, whereas if they were based in the West Country or East Anglia they might have a small chance of this, given the right successes.

    If FFP rules are implemented stringently and policed effectively, then we're talking about a big club closed-shop for many years to come. At least under the current system a small club can dream about being bought by a billionaire.

    On the other hand, there's an argument which says a little "creative accounting" can render FFP a paper exercise only. On a very basic level, what's to stop a mega-rich owner buying a few million shirts? Then £Xm in transfer funds have come direct from shirt sales.

    Or, in a far more insidious scenario, what's to stop many clubs raising ticket prices by 30% or so? Granted, you wouldn't see this at Blackburn or Wigan, but at Everton or Villa, trying to close the income gap on the financial giants?

    All I can see FFP doing is creating a combination of higher ticketing/merchandising prices, a proliferation in loophole-seeking accounting practices, and a still stretching gap between rich and poor.

  • Comment number 25.

    However much money they might offer United should steer clear of any middle eastern buyers, after all Quatar could be the next up for revolution for all we know.

  • Comment number 26.

    It may appear that billionaires like Roman Abramovich are wasting their money and have bought their clubs to operate like playthings however whilst their operations may run at a loss they are still making money from them. Take the Fernado Torres signing, Chelsea may have paid 50 million for him however the net value of their other players has also increased substantially. How much is Drogba, Lampard now worth in the wake of Torres signing, even the value of their youth players will have all risen by a couple of million each. So what may have appeared to be an exhorbitent price tag has actually increased the value of Chelsea's assets by 50-100 million perhaps.
    So going back to the Glazers investment in Man Utd, it's been a very good investment, especially considering they used none of their own money to purchase, have paid themselves a very hefty salary throughout their ownership and could now potentially sell it for anywhere between 600-1100 million more than what they paid for it.
    Provided you can have a good cashflow going through your club, of which a large and loyal fanbase and the TV income streams should ensure that the amount of money that can be made is phenomenal.
    So I doubt there'd be a shortage of buyers, why would the Glazer's need to sell? Maybe their other investments are struggling back in the US, maybe they see the FFP rules making it harder to make as much easy money, who knows?

  • Comment number 27.

    @17 I disagree that FFP is a "protect the rich" scheme. As has been pointed out, the whole ethos behind it is to ensure that clubs spend within their means and anything that will prevent clubs from doing a "Leeds" or "Portsmouth" has to be a good thing for those clubs and their fans.

    But bear in mind that FFP in no way stops massive investment in smaller clubs and if anything, it only really restricts clubs in the top 7 of the Premier League. There would be nothing to stop an investor coming up with a 3 year plan to spend massively to get the team he's buying to the top of the table, in the knowledge that by doing so he won't be able to offer any of the players European football for 3 years until the spending spree has expired from UEFA's monitoring period. In fact if the investor was clever he'd buy a club in League One and fill it with stars who are prepared to sign up for the long term plan. Walk the next two seasons and gain promotion twice, and then by the time the club can be in a situation to qualify for Europe, the initial spend will be off the books. All this assuming he can generate an income in that time that can satisfy the wage bill.

  • Comment number 28.

    Why on earth would the Glazers ever sell United?

    They are making a killing out of the club and the fault is solely down to their fans.

    If the fans who sport the "Norwich" colors stopped buying their United shirts and season tickets they could force the Glazers out. Everytime they turn up at a match they hand a lovely pay packet into the hands of people they detest so badly.

    Of course much of the revenue from merchandising is not actually from the real fans of the club, rather glory hunters. The success of United looks to be its downfall. Take the Rooney situation not long ago. My boss has a season ticket at OT and he has never and never will forgive Rooney. How many of the fickle fans will still go out and buy the shirt with his name on? Thus giving more money to the Glazers to keep the,m at the club and more money to Rooney who will happily question the likes of SAF and the other players for a hefty pay rise.

    United fans only have themselves to blame. Liverpool were able to get rid of their owners and yet Man United fans still sit happily with theirs.

  • Comment number 29.

    As this saga rolls on I think the writer is missing the key point in all of this which is: the Glazers are actually doing a very good job of managing the club finances.

    We've heard the endless prophecies of United sinking under the burden of unsustainable debt, something which, in reality, has never been remotely likely to happen. So what have the fans had under the Glazer tenure?

    Firstly, and most importantly to any fan, Utd have continued to win silverware at a greater rate than any of their rivals. Secondly, Ferguson has had money to spend on players and has done so regularly. While the challenge of the GFC put pressure on the Glazer's highly leveraged model and forced them to restructure with some degree of difficulty, affairs on the pitch have gone on as normal.

    Yes, there is the argument that Fergie's spending has been curtailed in recent seasons but that cannot be proven to be the case. It has never been Ferguson's style to make multiple big signings all at once. He has always gone for transitioning his teams gradually and developing youth, while buying key players when necessary.

    United may well be sold by the Glazers for an enormous profit at some point in the future but this was undoubtedly always their intention, while understanding that to achieve that they needed to keep the club successful and grow the revenues and profits.

    So where are they up to with that model? Well the PIK loans are paid off and they are now buying back some of the bonds; all of which leads to a reduction in interest payments. Operating profits have broken through the 100m barrier and are set to continue growing and cash reserves are 135m. United should post a healthy profit in the next financial year and, moving forward, the business model will undoubtedly focus on reducing the debt further while reinvesting profits in the club/team.

    There's been far too much hysteria regarding the Glazers and those forecasting the apocolypse for the club have been way, way off the mark.

    Personally, I'm very happy with this model at thism point and would far prefer it to having some sheik come in an throw money around like a drunken sailor. As long as Fergie is around he'd never buy into the 'galacticos' approach anyway as he understands that the culture in the club would be destroyed by that approach and above all else he protects the 'soul' of Utd with great integrity.

  • Comment number 30.

    @ 28. Downfall?! Ha ha! Have you actually looked at the figures or are you just basing your insight on a personal fantasy? United have just posted a financial report which shows them to likely be the first club in world football to make £100 million + annual operating profit. That same report shows that Glazer's nett debt has dropped from around £800 million a year ago, to £355 million, and so around a years turnover. The equivalent of someone on 30 grand a year having a 30 grand mortgage.

    If you think any of that is a negative mark against United then you're miles away from reality. Even the staunchest anti-Glazer crowd will be quietly pleased by those figures, even if the finances would look better still without an owner who has lumbered non-football related debt on the club.

  • Comment number 31.

    WordsofWisdom, I agree with you, but whilst the curtailed spending cannot be proven, that doesn't mean we don't all know that is the case. It's definitely in the Glazer's interests to keep the club successful because the last thing they want is a club that someone is rumoured to be willing to spend £1.6 billion in buying, turning into a club worth £800 million because rival clubs have moved ahead of us, taking some of the prestige and competition revenue away. I definitely feel over the past couple of years they've tried to do it on a shoestring, whereas if we'd had similar investment that we'd had in previous seasons we'd have comfortably pulled away from the surrounding pack. Last season we were beaten by a single point, so could there have been enough "value in the market" to invest in a player who would have personally contributed an extra point or two over the entire season? I certainly believe there was and so that was a missed opportunity.

    United are top of the league at the moment, but how many extra points would we have in the bag with a Keane and 25 year old Scholes instead of a Carrick and Gibson in midfield? United can't rest on their laurels and need to improve in some pretty obvious areas, and I hope that the latest financial figures means the manager will be able to do that in the coming summer.

  • Comment number 32.

    @IvIark: Things have definitely been tighter over the past couple of years with the GFC and the need to restructure the debt but Fergie has still had some money to invest. None of Smalling, Hernandez or Bebe were 'essential' signings at the time from a squad point of view (although both Smalling and Hernandez both look like excellent buys).

    Fergie could have spent this money on a 20m+ midfield player but I don't think he believed that he needed to. Go back to the start of the season and Fergie would have been hoping that Hargo returned (as we now know that will probably never happen), that Anderson would finally step-up and become a dominant player and that Fletch and Carrick would continue to contribute at the level that they have in recent seasons. Just about all those things have not materialised as so we have a situation where Fergie definitely has to buy this sumnmer and I believe that he will.

    Personally, I have no probelm with our defensive, attacking and wide options....just the CM area, which has been where we are failing to dominate games as before.

    Anyway, I think we're agreed that some spending is due and that the money will be available as the finances are looking a great deal healthier.

  • Comment number 33.

    The Glazers are trying to do whatever they are trying to do with borrowed money, quite expensive borrowed money. They stall the Qataris for long enough then they will start to look around elsewhere, this is what happened with Liverpool and the Abu Dhabi people. Arsenal would be out of the question because of the complicated spread of shares but why not Spurs or Newcastle ?, Newcastle have fantastic support and infrastructure and would seem to me to be a natural. The Glazers could find themselves competing against another 2 or 3 oil barons if they are not careful.

  • Comment number 34.

    "Qatar Holdings has already issued a denial and today United insisted: "The owners remain fully committed to their long-term ownership of the club. No discussions have taken place. Manchester United are not for sale and the owners will not entertain any offers."

    So that is that then."

    =========================================

    So, another media fueled non-story then?

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    Qatari Royal family have denied the stories - "rumours".

    Glazers have denied the stories.

    Yet we have, "persistent reports linking Qatar Holdings or members of the Qatar Royal Family with a possible bid to buy out the Glazers."

    So where do these stories come from?

    The BBC and other media outlets looking for a story. They all want "the story" .... "the scoop" ..... a headline to attract visitors to their sites, to get listeners to tune in to their "news" broadcasts .... a "story" o get people to buy their rags ....

    That is why the "story" persists where tere is no story.

    And that is the end of the story.

  • Comment number 37.

    Qataris say no bid has been made, Glazers say club is not for sale, BBC say "THIS IS A LIE!!!"


    The BBC are journalistic arsonists, no fuel, no fire but we will start a fire, then fan it as often as we can, not because its needed, not because its wanted but because we can!


    Go and get a job with The Sun, ditch pointless blogs with no actual basis in reality and bring back 606!

  • Comment number 38.

    The financial points:- Debts reducing, profits increasing, cash reserves on hand.
    The football points:- Top of the league, FA Cup quarter's, CL knockout stages. £20m spent in the summer(agreed in Jan for Smalling and Chicharito, but went through in summer) on young players for the future, Rooney's new contract sorted, Evra signed up long term, Giggs one yr extension, promise of new players if THE MANAGER decides (clear statement the manager is in charge of all footballing matters) etc etc.

    I may not like the Glazers, and the way they financed their deal to buy the club, but if the above carries on (and there is no reason at all to think it won't, and absolutely no evidence - sorry United bashers) then frankly they can stay as long as they want!

  • Comment number 39.

    I don't want Qataris at my club. Hell they know nothing about football, wouldn't be suprised if they decide to fire SAF if United don't win trophies. Glazers are doing good job at United. They reduced the debt and are expanding United's name and profits all the while. What's wrong with that?
    And besides, since both Qatar Holding and Glazers have denied this rumour, where does it even originate from and why do media like yourselves even bother about it?

  • Comment number 40.

    Not exactly sure how the Barcelona football model works, but the idea of the fans being members and voting on who runs the club, appeals to me.

    In fact, I'd love to see all clubs throughout the world majority-owned by the fans themselves. Of course this will never happen because football and its governing bodies are as corrupt as can be.

    No Abramovic, no Ashley, no Glazers, no Qatar Holdings. My dream.

  • Comment number 41.

    we don't need billionaire benifactors pumping millions in to the club we just need the debts to be wiped and the money the club generates to be left in it

  • Comment number 42.


    At 15:44 on 25 Feb 2011, David Bond wrote:

    "the world's most famous football brand?"


    And the evidence for that is???

    For all I know they are at best the 3rd most popular club in Europe, with nearly half the popularity of the first.



  • Comment number 43.

    The Barcelona model hasn't exactly worked for them though, they're up to their eyeballs in debt!

    Why do United need such a large amount in cash reserves (£135m) just sitting there? Is that to purchase replacement players? Or to pay the Glazers' some dividends, I don't think they have actually taken much cash out of the club since they've been in charge.

    As an Arsenal fan, I think the Glazers have done extremely well increasing the commercial revenue and should be applauded for that if nothing else, because you will be way out in front when it comes to the amount you can spend on transfers/wages when FFP comes into effect.

  • Comment number 44.

    In truth, Manchester United are being used as some sort of chicken that makes the golden egg. For as long as they are at the top four, playing in Champions League, selling 1.2m shirts (on average), with commercial activities bringing in top deals, Glazers wouldn't sell because they don't have to - they own the club.

    Marketing preaches that being talked is good, as long as they type your name right. It's good for the Qatari family and Qatar to be talked as buying United because it's free advertising. Equally, it's good for Glazers to be talked as selling the club, as this raises shares value. And that's that - simple, basic economics.

    What matters to me as a fan is will the club be allowed to be taking part in the transfer market as a club that earns over £100m annually? It's almost comical trying to keep gain from every breath of Giggs and Scholes at their twilight months as footballers. Plus, it's not excessive for a club to spend some 30%-40% of its net income to new investment - quite the contrary, it's called common sense.

    As a Manchester United fan, I don't want United to become 'new galacticos'. There is no need for that. It's more important to win competitions with healthy competition than being the only one out there. United don't need that to prosper.

    There is no better ending to a post on an issue like this than remind football fans the favourite garbage-talk about overpaid footballers. A few dozen footballers on short careers and one manager brought United to such heights and such profits for few. It is such heights clubs that pay £50m for Torres and £35m for Carrol that aim for. When you set such targets to yourself, you need to buy the Ferraris of footballers like the Skoda - no harm intending to the latter car brand, as I quite like it actually.

    On a last note, I really can't understand how United fans really think about when they blame Rooney for having expressed a preference to leave the club if they don't invest in players. He actually talked about home truths He's on a short career and he should aim to the best gains out of football for himself and his family and that's it. When United are being taken for a ride by almost failed American billionaires, it's elsewhere to put the blame and not Rooney.

  • Comment number 45.

    42. At 10:20am on 26 Feb 2011, nibs wrote:

    At 15:44 on 25 Feb 2011, David Bond wrote:

    "the world's most famous football brand?"


    And the evidence for that is???

    For all I know they are at best the 3rd most popular club in Europe, with nearly half the popularity of the first.


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    It's already long since been established on here, Nibs, that you actually know very little. Real Madrid estimate their fans base as 237m worldwide while Utd's is estimated at 333m.

    Have you spent any time in Asia or Africa in recent years? If you did then on match days you'd see the proliferation of Utd shirts as fans gather to watch the games. You'd also see significant support for Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea....but actually not that much at all for Real or Barca.

    Of course nobody can categorically calculate the exact fan base teams have but there is evidence out there and I can tell you that Utd are comfortably ahead of the rest.

  • Comment number 46.

    David- I can understand that the Qatar Billionaires who won the World Cup franchise for 2022 would want to raise their profile (even further) in the game and what better way than buying the biggest club in the world; however I cannot see the Glazers selling United until their original reason for buying United, is finally put to bed.
    I am referring to the TV rights to broadcast live United matches; if this was to be accomplished, with the club determining its own TV contracts (not necessarily via the PL), then the club's debt could be written off 5 times over as the world wide interest as well as UK based demand, would be tremendous. The TV rights issue is why, first of all Rupert Murdoch wanted to buy United; however he was 'dissuaded' and then the Glazers moved in stealthly and successfully and as you have indicated they have been quietly 'fattening the golden calf' ever since! It is possible that the Qatar reasons for wanting to own United, will persuade them to meet the price the Glazers value United at, but this has nothing to do with current commercial success at United, its all about the 'potential' that exists, if and when United can ever control their own TV rights!

  • Comment number 47.

    @georgiesthebest7: That's a very good point! The only reason Utd rank behind Real Madrid and Barca in revenue terms is because of this factor. If Utd had their own TV deal they would blow the rest away.

  • Comment number 48.

    The Glazers will sell as soon as someone offers them what they want but that wont happen until a proper european league has started. it is coming. thats what the Glazers are here for! The revenue streams for a european league will be off the charts. Malcome G has allready stated that they are pushing for it and that is why the bought untied and no other english club

  • Comment number 49.

    I am really amused when I read that Glazers' shrewd financial expertise improved financial profits for Manchester United. All that springs to mind is that "transfer" Abramovich made by acquiring the services of a United financial director, thought of as the mastermind behind United success. Remember the story? That man too was gettinge all the credit. In the end he got the sack from Chelsea, while United kept bringing profits even higher at the same time.

    In truth, growth in United earnings should be seen in accordance to growth in profits for all big clubs in England - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, even Manchester City. I don't have the figures available, but I'm relatively certain that an analogy is in place there, throughout the growth. If you think that Liverpool play non Champions League football, while United have recently won the Champions League, while being in other finals too, it makes sense. Football as a business has grown in recent years, not just United profits. United added profits, it could be argued, are a logical consequence.

    As for the much talked about Financial Fair Play in football and UEFA's desire to bring health in football transfers, I am more than certain that football fans will start being sceptical on the real reasons behind this drive, if they place FFT alongside Champions League Final ticket prices.

    In this event, at Wembley, football fans in wheel chairs will have to fork out £80 (plus £24 for administration fee?). Ticket prices will range from £180 to £300+. Is this in accordance to financial common sense? It isn't.
    And what has the UEFA(?) official spokesman said on the issue? Of course, the convenient one: UEFA had to set appropriate prices as other similar events as Euro Championships and World Cup. It is not to be considered if FIFA and UEFA take football for a ride on those occasions. It is not to be considered to set ticket prices at a logical, common sense cost. It is to be set in accordance to what, every time, is regarded as common thieving by being given an opportunity.

    I'm really curious what Mr Platini would say if someone asks him about FFP in conjuction where UEFA and FIFA are more than culprits. How do you trust that good will is behind such schemes, when in other arenas, the same people make so extraordinarily different decisions?

  • Comment number 50.

    @49

    "I'm really curious what Mr Platini would say if someone asks him about FFP in conjuction where UEFA and FIFA are more than culprits. "

    Meant: I'm really curious what Mr Platini would say if someone asks him about FFP in conjuction with Champions League Final prices, where UEFA are more than culprits.

    I do wish there was an EDIT function in existence.

  • Comment number 51.

    17. At 10:25pm on 25 Feb 2011, Shugs wrote:
    A couple of posters have mentioned the Financial Fair Play rules.... what have they got to do with United?.... if any club is going be untouched by FFP its United.

    FFP links expenditure to income.... United has the biggest capacity, gates and income in EPL... therefore will be unaffected in anyway.

    Chelsea and City won't throw cash around so freely as before... but in now way will FFP level the playing fields.... quite the opposite, smaller clubs will have to spend less, have weaker squads, be less competitive.

    FFP is almost a 'protect the rich' scheme that stops smaller clubs ever trying to chase the dream

    ---------------

    I completely agree that FFP is far from fair. It will only succeed in making the rich clubs richer and the smaller clubs less competitive. Under financial fair play Vilarreal would never have been in tha champions league, Hercules would never have beaten Barca this season, Wigan would never have climbed the leagues, Hearts would never have split the old firm, Hoffenheim would never have had their fairytale season in the bundesliga last year (where they are now an established force selling players for large profit), I could go on and on.

    Sometimes to become a 'big club' there has to be some excessive spending, but as long as this is done with investment in infrastructure and a long term plan then why is this wrong??

    All of the clubs I mentioned above have levelled out after initial investment. Does anybody ever say they would hate Dave Whelan as their owner? No. He bought Wigans way into the premier league but did so with a long term plan.

    Financial 'Fair' Play will never be fair.

  • Comment number 52.

    50. At 11:45am on 26 Feb 2011, Football_UK wrote:
    @49


    As for the much talked about Financial Fair Play in football and UEFA's desire to bring health in football transfers, I am more than certain that football fans will start being sceptical on the real reasons behind this drive, if they place FFT alongside Champions League Final ticket prices.

    In this event, at Wembley, football fans in wheel chairs will have to fork out £80 (plus £24 for administration fee?). Ticket prices will range from £180 to £300+. Is this in accordance to financial common sense? It isn't.
    And what has the UEFA(?) official spokesman said on the issue? Of course, the convenient one: UEFA had to set appropriate prices as other similar events as Euro Championships and World Cup. It is not to be considered if FIFA and UEFA take football for a ride on those occasions. It is not to be considered to set ticket prices at a logical, common sense cost. It is to be set in accordance to what, every time, is regarded as common thieving by being given an opportunity.



    -----------------------

    I completely agree, the phrase practise what you preach comes to mind

  • Comment number 53.

    WordsofWisdom wrote: "Personally, I have no probelm with our defensive, attacking and wide options....just the CM area, which has been where we are failing to dominate games as before."

    I agree with that completely. In fact it looks exactly like a sentence I may have written.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    nibs wrote: "And the evidence for that is???"

    Rating how "famous" a club is, is always going to be subjective. But if you rate their popularity on merchandise sales then the recent report gives an idea of just how popular United is. They are sixth in the list which some non-United fans thought was hilarious, until they realised that Sport+Markt only included revenue from United's own Megastore. So essentially United have the 6th highest merchandising turnover in world football through JUST ONE SHOP.

    As has been said, if United were able to negotiate their own TV deal then we'd be miles ahead of Real and Barca in terms of turnover as well as the profit where we're already sitting top of the list. In fact even without the advantage of our own TV deal, we'll probably be ahead of them when the Euro stabilises at the expected level (about €1.4) against the pound again.

  • Comment number 54.

    The most important news for United from the financial report is that the debt level is decreasing and that is good news for all united fans. United will still remain a successful club for the next few years. United still generating loads of money and does have cash to spend if needed. As long as the debt level continues to decrease and United keep generating loads of money each year, it's ok for Glazers to keep control of United.

  • Comment number 55.

    Oh David, you are such a lost soul. The Glazers have not denied anything. They have been totally clear. They are not now and never have been interested in selling. You don't chose to accept this so you chose to perceive them as denying. Like any addict totally in denial yourself and projecting your own denial onto the Glazers. Fortunately they don't care what you think. They prefer to focus on growing the business and are doing a fine job in very difficult monetary times. A difficulty that has its origins in the irresponsible behaviour of the new york hedge funds and the lack of responsible govermnmental oversight. the fact that they have improved their business in such difficult financial circumstances is testament to their business acumen. If you possesed a half the business knowledge and wisdom they have shown you would deserve your status as editor, but your irrational persistent attatchment to your factless position says all anyone needs to know. You exemplify "entitlement to my opinion without resposibility to show any real facts to support it." That is the crucial difference between you and those you chose to criticise. jim nicholls

  • Comment number 56.

    King David Luiz - nothing is stopping Wigan or Hercules from choosing not to comply with FFP. It doesn't affect domestic title or cup aspirations, and just means that they won't be able to compete in Europe until they're at a financially stable level.

    I suppose I just have a little trouble trying to understand why asking clubs to spend within their means can be considered unfair, and yet it's apparantly completely fair that a couple of select clubs can have access to unlimited funds from a rich benefactor, effectively allowing them to place themselves between the Wigans and Hercules of the world and the top of the table without having any sporting achievements whatsoever.

  • Comment number 57.


    46. At 11:15am on 26 Feb 2011, georgiesthebest7 wrote:

    "the biggest club in the world"


    You are NOT the biggest club in the world when you have reached only four European Cup finals and no Uefa Cup finals in your existence, winning 2 of them in the most flukey fashion possible and the other one in ET playing in your home country.

    You are also NOT the biggest club in the world when 2 years ago you were outplayed in the CL final, when last year you did not reach the last 4 of the competition, and when last week you performed on par with Marseille.

    And you are NOT the biggest club in the world when there are ZERO players from your squad in the Uefa & Fifa teams of the year, and when your squad has ZERO players in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.



  • Comment number 58.

    ###STOP PRESS###
    "United hater claims United aren't the biggest club in the world shocker!"

    In reality you're not talking about "biggest club in the world" with any of your statement. You're confusing "biggest" and "best". There can be no doubt that Barca are currently the best club in the world, but whether they can compete with United's 333 million fan base is doubtful.

  • Comment number 59.

    It is in the Glazer's interests to sell, that is where they will make their real money - as I already said, they haven't actually made any money from the club yet other than in a small amount of 'consultancy' fees.

    One suspects they are holding out for the highest possible price, anything less than £300m ultimate profit after paying back loans and bonds and they won't think it worth their while to sell at that particular time.

    I would say that when Fergie retires would be a good time to sell, allowing the new owner to start with a clean slate, their own choice as manager and plenty of cash in the bank to build their own squad.

    Take no notice of the public statements both parties are issuing, these are par for the course in such a situation and press releases even acknowledging the sale won't be issued until after the deal has been agreed.

  • Comment number 60.

    I gave up reading this blog when a "fan" praised the way the club has been run,mentioning the debt is being reduced. Ye gods!
    Until these parasites bought the club..WE HAD NO DEBT.Indeed under the PLC we we very well run and instead of £90m leaving the club to service the debt,most of that money was spent on the Rio's,Rooney,Veron's of this world and transfer record's broken aquiring Keano,Cole and Yorke.
    In the 6yrs of glazer,we have bought ONE player(Berba)who would be classed as a buy of equal standing. Fergie is hardly in a position to bitr the hand that feeds him and the split between fans on ownership would become a chasm were he to do so.
    Apart from losing a couple of thousand fans when F.C.United were formed,in the last 3yrs we have lost 16,000-12,000 and 6,000 season ticket holders respectively due to the glazer ownership,the waiting list for S/T no longer exist's,the sold out 6 weeks in advance pre glazer has turned into empty seats at some games..and the majority of missing fans are the likes of myself who reluctantly gave up 2yrs ago after 41yrs active support!
    Utd are where they are because of the manager..the glazers have over the last 6yrs allowed over £500m to leave the club to pay off the debt of purchase..imagine the team we would have if that cash was invested in the club and not given to the banks!
    The true story of glazer ownership will only come to light when they sell up..but when we have been reduced to have loan deals for Larsen and Tev and freebies such as Owen...then you know the club has been starved of funds. L.U.H. all the glazers!

  • Comment number 61.

    57. At 12:28pm on 26 Feb 2011, nibs wrote:

    46. At 11:15am on 26 Feb 2011, georgiesthebest7 wrote:

    "the biggest club in the world"


    You are NOT the biggest club in the world when you have reached only four European Cup finals and no Uefa Cup finals in your existence, winning 2 of them in the most flukey fashion possible and the other one in ET playing in your home country.

    You are also NOT the biggest club in the world when 2 years ago you were outplayed in the CL final, when last year you did not reach the last 4 of the competition, and when last week you performed on par with Marseille.

    And you are NOT the biggest club in the world when there are ZERO players from your squad in the Uefa & Fifa teams of the year, and when your squad has ZERO players in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Get a grip, your anti-United drivel is embarrassing.

    Do you honestly use the above measures as a gauge for how big a club is?

    Do you seriously think a club's size is dependent on how many players appear in the latter stages of the WC or are in ridiculous FIFA/UEFA World XI teams?

    You use the most ridiculous and comical measures to gauge how 'big' a club is, because we got outplayed in the CL final 2 years ago? Because we had an average game against Marseilles? What a clown you are.

    The biggest club in the world moniker is a subjective one, and in my opinion it's between United, Barca and Real. What the order actually comprises is even more subjective in itself.

    At any rate, Man United IS the most valuable sports brand on the planet, the most valuable sports club on the planet and has the largest fan base of any sports club on the planet.

    I think those factors are far more relevant than your ridiculous ones.

  • Comment number 62.

    25. At 11:36pm on 25 Feb 2011, Mike Mullen wrote:
    However much money they might offer United should steer clear of any middle eastern buyers, after all Quatar could be the next up for revolution for all we know.

    -------------------------------

    Seriously doubt this, these riots and revolutions have been triggered in countries where the people have been suffering because of joblessness and bad economies. Considering that Qatar has the richest average population where most people have 4 or 5 sports cars sitting in their drives I seriously doubt the population would get angry and try to overthrow the royal family, not to mention the fact that about 10% of the population are part of the royal family it seems unlikely this will happen.

  • Comment number 63.

    Also how many United fans are happy at the Qatari takeover bid?
    Is every United fan against the Glazers?

    Regarding the timing of the takeover and press statements. I dont see why the Glazers or the Qataris would announce any kind of talks midway through a potential league winning season. Why not wait till the summer for this kind of talk. Probably wouldnt affect the team but you never know

  • Comment number 64.

    King David Luiz - nothing is stopping Wigan or Hercules from choosing not to comply with FFP. It doesn't affect domestic title or cup aspirations, and just means that they won't be able to compete in Europe until they're at a financially stable level.

    I suppose I just have a little trouble trying to understand why asking clubs to spend within their means can be considered unfair, and yet it's apparantly completely fair that a couple of select clubs can have access to unlimited funds from a rich benefactor, effectively allowing them to place themselves between the Wigans and Hercules of the world and the top of the table without having any sporting achievements whatsoever.

    --------------------


    So what your saying is, it's ok to buy your way into the premier league/Bundesliga/la Liga but not into European competition? The large clubs have more to spend because they already have the huge stadiums and fan base.

    These rules would have stopped Vilarreal qualifying for europe which played a major part in them becoming more financially stable, or if Wigan had managed to qualify for europe in that first season in the premier league they would have been excluded from the competition therefore missing out on the major funds which would be generated by such a competition.

    If Hoffenheim qualify this year they shouldnt be allowed entry because it may take 10 years for the stadium to be paid off along with the sale of many stars (who they are investing in from south america with the vision of making future profit) before they level out? Surely all this is doing is keeping the smaller teams down. With a season or 2 in europe that 10 years could become 5.

    For a small club to become a big club they have to spend beyond what they make for a long period of time before all this effort comes to fruition. As long as this is done with a sound, long term financial plan then there should be no reason why they can't compete in europe.

    I for one don't want to see the same teams winning every competition for the rest of my life.

  • Comment number 65.

    Also on the biggest/most popular/highest profit making club debate.

    If you take away tv money and sponsorship and base this purely on merchandise sales and ticket sales, Bayern Munich are the most succesful club in europe.

  • Comment number 66.

    64. At 12:54pm on 26 Feb 2011, King David Luiz wrote:

    --------------------------------------------------------

    You make very good points, however you clearly would have that opinion as you are a Chelsea fan.

    Without Abramovich you would still have only 1 league title to your name, no long-running CL adventures and final, no influx of top players, no A* managers every season and nowhere near the amount of publicity your club has received since 2003. Without him, you probably would have been hovering around the UEFA Cup spots with perhaps another 4th placed finish but nothing more.

    I do understand that 'smaller' clubs need to spend beyond their means in order to match the European giants, but can you not see why many regard it as cheating?

    Clubs like Real, Barca, United, AC Milan, Inter, Bayern et al have taken decades to build up footballing legacies which are world-famous, and in our case we had to achieve on-field success and win trophies in order to sign the likes of Rio and Rooney.

    So you must understand that some may feel aggrieved when a Chelsea or City come in, bankrolled to the hilt by a benefactor and racking up monstrous annual debts, in order to try and take a shortcut to footballing success.

  • Comment number 67.

    King David Luiz wrote:

    > So what your saying is, it's ok to buy your way into the premier
    > league/Bundesliga/la Liga but not into European competition? The large clubs
    > have more to spend because they already have the huge stadiums and fan base.

    No that's not what I'm saying at all, that's what UEFA is saying

    > These rules would have stopped Vilarreal qualifying for europe which played a
    > major part in them becoming more financially stable, or if Wigan had managed
    > to qualify for europe in that first season in the premier league they would
    > have been excluded from the competition therefore missing out on the major
    > funds which would be generated by such a competition.

    So you're saying that qualification to UEFA competition is preferable to being financially stable? If Wigan spend a billion pounds on players then they wouldn't be eligible for European competition based on UEFA's new policy for entry. This means that a club HAS to have a long term plan and not just a Manchester City modus operandi "throw as much money at it as possible, it doesn't matter if the club can ever get close to balancing the books"

    > I for one don't want to see the same teams winning every competition for
    > the rest of my life.

    But what you're suggesting is fair could actually be more likely for that to happen. If a club are allowed to spend with inpunity, with no limit on transfer fees and no limit on wages then they could ultimately put together a team which no one else could touch for a decade. So you'd have the same TEAM, not teams, winning every competition for the rest of your life without ever having earned a penny of the outlay through their own sporting endeavours. I can't see how that can be considered as the lesser of two evils, and fortunately neither does the football authorities.

  • Comment number 68.

    With the debt under £500m, our debt could easily be paid off within the next few years (I think 2017 is the date we must pay by), especially considering the amount of money we are making through the club and commercial sources.
    If the debt was going up, it would be a different story. However, the club is going from strength to strength financially, so there does not appear to be a problem.
    One thing that is poorly thought out is when people say "Stop buying their shirts and they will be forced to sell". All that is going to happen is that a significant chunk of commercial revenue is not going to be available. And the debts might start going up again.

  • Comment number 69.

    "Also how many United fans are happy at the Qatari takeover bid?
    Is every United fan against the Glazers?"

    If the speculated Qatari takeover takes place, United fans would expect the club to stop being milked. The Qatari family needs the advertising but are not desperate for cash. If they let the club drive itself, they will find themselves making profits while the club buys the players they need for the continuation of success from the over £100m profits generated each year.

    Should there be United fans happy seeing the club being milked by an almost failed billionnaire family who purchased the club on a 14.5% interest paying mortgage? What we've come to be living under Glazer rule at United is:
    a) Ronaldo being sold and cash being shipped across the Atlantic
    b) Tevez being played about by Gills and, quite rightly in my opinion, paying the club back by moving to City
    c) making ammends for the Tevez loss with an injury prone Owen
    d) failing to make much needed transfers, slowly weakening the once strongest by a distance squad in the Premiership.

    I can't understand the logic in the questions asked.
    Should there be United fans happy with the Glazer regime in the club?

  • Comment number 70.

    If the Glaziers do sell to the Qatari Royal Family, they will end up as the most supported club in the world. This is due to the fact that merchandising will go through the roof within the Arab world.

  • Comment number 71.

    Football UK

    Yeah the Qatari family dont need money at all from Utd. They just want thier name to be heard and seen in the footballing world as shown by the successful world cup bid and the Barcelona shirt sponsor deal.

    If it does happen, Expect them to do everything to outshine the Abu Dhabi group from across the City.

  • Comment number 72.

    64. At 12:54pm on 26 Feb 2011, King David Luiz wrote:

    --------------------------------------------------------

    You make very good points, however you clearly would have that opinion as you are a Chelsea fan.

    --------------

    This is nothing to do with my club. I agree that we shouldnt have spent so excessively and that Abramovich takes fare too much to do with team affairs. I agree completely that there yes there should be a Financial fair play system, it just so happens that the one being proposed is not fair. At no point did I mention any sympathy towards Chelsea or City. The we did between 03/04 and 06 was outrageous, as was the 50m for Torres. But Real Madrid were doing this long before us and more excessively than us yet nobody grudges them their success.

    Manchester Utd gained their massive fan base through global success, but their fanbase is not homegrown (like say Barcelona). Manchester Utd have broken the british transfer record on numerous occasions and were spending well beyond their means in the past to become this global brand.

    The point I am trying to make is that fair play would be giving everyone an even budget every season (allocated by say uefa) otherwise there is nothing fair about this. It's like heavyweights boxing featherweights or usain bolt racing emile heskey. Unless everyone starts from square one there is no way of making anything fair when the huge clubs already have such a massive head start..



    --------------

    So you're saying that qualification to UEFA competition is preferable to being financially stable? If Wigan spend a billion pounds on players then they wouldn't be eligible for European competition based on UEFA's new policy for entry. This means that a club HAS to have a long term plan and not just a Manchester City modus operandi "throw as much money at it as possible, it doesn't matter if the club can ever get close to balancing the books"

    ---------------


    At what point did i say anyone was spending a Billion pounds?? This isnt about City or Chelsea or Madrid it is about giving smaller teams a fighting chance. I said being in europe would help these clubs become financially stable. I didnt say it was more important, you completely miss the whole point. Having a long term plan of success (domestic or continental) will mean spending beyond your means for a long period of time before you can become that global brand and become profitable. without european competition there isnt that exposure to a global audience.

    Unless there is a global wage cap, NFL style Drafting and the abolition of transfer fees and long contracts there is no such thing as financial fair play.

  • Comment number 73.

    @71,

    With all due respect to City fans, even now United are outshining City in Manchester. The Qatari family need do nothing. If they let the club invest 30% of profits generated, United will always have a strong squad.

    As a football fan, I would love United to have the Barcelona model, where fans own the club and elect the chairman themselves. But I suppose in this era in time this belongs to romantics.

    Overall, though, between Glazer family and Qatari family, I would take the latter, every single time. When worries spring to mind regarding personal chairman involvement in the club, we see at City that they young seikh is wise enough to let football matters to football people in the club. A similar approach at United, wouldn't harm.

    Still, though, speculation is speculation.
    Glazer owns Manchester United and if they don't won't to sell, no matter how much others want to buy the club, they won't, It's as simple as that.

  • Comment number 74.

    you make some good points king david luiz, im guessing from your name you are a chelsea fan and as such, you stand to lose out the most from the ffp rules.

    for both city and chelsea these rules will seem far from fair as both clubs have owners who are rich enough to bankrole their teams. the money they have at their disposal is not in question, and they seem committed to bettering the clubs on and off the field.

    its a shame that teams like leeds and pompey, for example, didnt have such worthy owners when they 'chased the dream'. and that is the point, for every ambramovic and abu dhabi shiek, there are two or three schisters out there who will completely ruin clubs if left unchecked.

    perhaps a better way to control clubs finances would be to introduce a salary cap. not easy to administor due to taxation differences in different countries but this would maybe enable all clubs to prosper within their means.

    however, either way, the big clubs are just that because, of whatever reason, they have attracted a massive fanbase that allows them more funds to spend on improving the team/club infrastructure. the interesting thing is that on-field success doesnt necessarily result in fan base improvement. take chelsea for example, after an initial surge in interest in the period just before and after abramovic took control they have stagnated in terms of fan base improvement. this despite chelsea having their most successful period in thier long history. hence they continue to make significant losses, have a wage bill that almost wipes out their annual turnover, and have no plans to increase capacity at the bridge. perhaps the only way for chelsea and city to improve income is to sell the naming rights for the stadium, and develop shopping and hotel complexes.

  • Comment number 75.


    58. At 12:33pm on 26 Feb 2011, IvIark wrote:

    "whether they can compete with United's 333 million fan base is doubtful"


    Did you count 333m well you might have missed one or two. Is that what they put on places like Wikipedia and teams' websites? This research and others like this are made by asking 10 or 20 thousand people out of 7 billion or 0.0002% sample from 20 countries out of 200 and extrapolating. There is another research by Harvard that concluded Real were top with 240m whilst Barcelona have just 35 MILLION. Are they accurate as well? And as I said before the most recent one by SportMarkt regarding fanbase gives Barca & Real top in Europe with United 30.6m to Barca's 57.8. But hey the 330m one is the best research, no?

    The FACTS (paying members aside which doesn't say much as Benfica are top and Olympiacos are ahead of Real) are that United come 3rd in REVENUES behind Real and Barca, in fact they are closer to Bayern's figures, and they also come way behind Real and Barca in merchandising figures (where the PL also trails La Liga)

    And in any case tv merchandise & fanbase for a club or league doesn't mean the club or league is great and worth it football-wise as it's mostly down to canny marketing and a credit to these departments, eg. the PL recently won the Queen's award for selling an average product so well. But not everyone is swallowing the 'biggest club/league' generalities and inaccuracies.




  • Comment number 76.

    King David Luiz wrote:

    > At what point did i say anyone was spending a Billion pounds??
    > This isnt about City or Chelsea or Madrid it is about giving
    > smaller teams a fighting chance.

    But you can't have your cake and eat it. If you want to give Wigan a fighting chance to spend anything they like, then likewise you're giving City the green light to spend as much of Mansour's money as they like on whatever they like for as long as they like, essentially making Wigan's fighting chance pointless.

    Ultimately FFP was voted in unanimously by the European Clubs Association, which includes Abramovich and Mansour, so it's a bit disingenuous for their fans to be moaning about it. And paradoxically I haven't heard any Wigan fans or Dave Whelan complain once.

  • Comment number 77.

    nibs wrote:

    > And as I said before the most recent one by SportMarkt regarding fanbase
    > gives Barca & Real top in Europe with United 30.6m to Barca's 57.8

    And United have responded saying those figures only include sales from the United Megastore. So as I said before, United have the 6th largest merchandising revenue in world football from sales at JUST ONE SHOP. Sorry that really doesn't support your argument at all.

  • Comment number 78.

    If you wanted a quick idea, go on Facebook (bear in mind this is very rough indeed)-
    United- 9,703,094
    Real Madrid- 9,235,113
    Barcelona- 9,977,858

    So even if United wasn't definitively the most supported, it is right up there.
    Either way, I believe that United is the most supported club in the world.

  • Comment number 79.

    "So what are United keeping the money back for? Is it to pay dividends to bond holders? Is it to pay the Glazers back themselves? Or is it to finance a big spending spree on players in the summer?"

    As it says in the accounts, if you'd bothered to read them, the club has covenants connected to their loans requiring them to keep a certain amount of cash on hand.

    "As ever with the Glazers, the more we find out the less we seem to know."

    There's nothing at all mysterious, just people who don't do the research - or ignore the known facts in order to make a point. Of course, none of the hatred and bile hurled at the Glazers from all sides has anything to do with their religion... and it's purely coincidence that this article uses several tricks from Geobbels' repertoire.

  • Comment number 80.

    75. At 1:45pm on 26 Feb 2011, nibs wrote:

    58. At 12:33pm on 26 Feb 2011, IvIark wrote:

    "whether they can compete with United's 333 million fan base is doubtful"


    Did you count 333m well you might have missed one or two. Is that what they put on places like Wikipedia and teams' websites? This research and others like this are made by asking 10 or 20 thousand people out of 7 billion or 0.0002% sample from 20 countries out of 200 and extrapolating. There is another research by Harvard that concluded Real were top with 240m whilst Barcelona have just 35 MILLION. Are they accurate as well? And as I said before the most recent one by SportMarkt regarding fanbase gives Barca & Real top in Europe with United 30.6m to Barca's 57.8. But hey the 330m one is the best research, no?

    The FACTS (paying members aside which doesn't say much as Benfica are top and Olympiacos are ahead of Real) are that United come 3rd in REVENUES behind Real and Barca, in fact they are closer to Bayern's figures, and they also come way behind Real and Barca in merchandising figures (where the PL also trails La Liga)

    And in any case tv merchandise & fanbase for a club or league doesn't mean the club or league is great and worth it football-wise as it's mostly down to canny marketing and a credit to these departments, eg. the PL recently won the Queen's award for selling an average product so well. But not everyone is swallowing the 'biggest club/league' generalities and inaccuracies.


    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    nibs you do seem to have your arris in your hands about this.

    the figure of 333m worldwide 'fans' is something that is in official club literature and was reiterated just the other day by david gill.

    of that figure 149m are said to be 'core supportes' whilst the rest are described as 'followers'.

    how do they measure this? well im guessing merchandising sales world wide are a good measure, along with subscriptions/registrations to mutv, manunited.com etc. heres a link for you for a statement from gill about the merchandising figures that only took the actual clubs' megastores at the grounds sales into account:

    http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/sport/football/manchester_united/s/1409273_united_dismiss_merchandising_figures

  • Comment number 81.

    @ 74,

    In the Leeds and Portsmouth examples, you are using two different examples, my friend. Leeds were chasing the title, those days, expecting money to come by potentially winning it. In Portsmouth's case, though, developers used the 'Middle East' chewing gum in an attempt to take over the grounds at Portsmouth for completely different purposes. Portsmouth ended up in something like a gambling game where one could say I have this cash, a watch, a car and Portsmouth F.C. to bid.

    It is only logical in such a way of thinking to mention the salary-cap. I do have to remind you, though, that football nowadays has left behind the ages where a football club was healthy financially if tickets were being sold to fans. Nowadays, football is a multi-billion industry and a few footballers, on a short career, help most for all this cash to be generated.
    Salary-cap in Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich? Or salary cap just to Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea? Who are you kidding?
    Are you aware that big non-english footballers would stop coming to play in the premiership if such a proposal became a fact?
    Would the premiership attract the worldwide interest and earnings that come with it?
    Would the premiership demand all this cash for tv viewing?
    Are you serious?

    To give an easy to compare example, there are a lot of cars out there that are very economical, very good to the environment, hybrid sometimes, spending little petrol and very low in insurance. Have you watched Formula 1, ever, though? If yes, why?
    Or do you see only such vehicles on English roads? :)

  • Comment number 82.

    siabot56 i think you should write this colum because you give a far clearer perspective of the situation . this article is so bogus like so many from leading internet sites , tabloids etc. in reality the media in our country is by far and away the most corupting influence in our game examples such as the world cup bid , inflating players egos , constantly hounding them in there personal lifes ,over egging our chances at tournaments i could go on .i no its the world we live in sensationalist hope i spelt that right . i mean look at fergie he wont even talk to this lot and fair play to him . in my opinion as some one who loves football all football i dont care what rooney does or gerrard when there not playing football . the fa is a joke its all about image for them saying the right things swayed by the gutter media rather than talking a stand for the way forward . how long can they put trevor brooking who i think is in it for the right reasons in front of a camera and say were producing enough young players? . here is an idea for them go to the barca academey and learn . i no i am getting of point here but i think its all tied in . at the end of the day i am still going to go and watch utd no matter who the owners are

  • Comment number 83.


    But you can't have your cake and eat it. If you want to give Wigan a fighting chance to spend anything they like, then likewise you're giving City the green light to spend as much of Mansour's money as they like on whatever they like for as long as they like, essentially making Wigan's fighting chance pointless.

    ----------------

    Once again you miss the point. I didnt say wigan could spend whatever they like (and i only used wigan as an example due to how they moved up the leagues, Vilarreal or Hoffenheim would probably be much better examples for yout use). You are picking out small points from what i said and ignoring all the rest.

    The top teams in the world have historic success which is why they have the most fans, agreed? To become top teams in the first place they were either lucky enough to have a golden generation or they brought in all the best players, e.g Madrid bringing in de stefano and Puskas and the likes over 60 years ago. Now why should, lets say Real Madrid, have all the benefits now that their financially unfair play gained them all those years ago.

    This is the point, unless you wipe everything to zero there is no such thing as financial fair play. ie a draft system, a salary cap and the abolition of transfer fees.

  • Comment number 84.

    @ 81

    your point about pompey and leeds is what? they both spent beyond their means to achieve....something....does it matter what? as a result they both nearly went out of business, and pompey are not out of the woods yet. who cares what they owners/ chairmen thought would happen, they gambled and lost. their models were unsustainable even in the medium term, let alone the long term.

    as for the salary cap, ok i agree that it would be pretty difficult to introduce or administor (as i said in my original post on the topic). i just suggested it may be an alternative to the ffp rules which i happen to agree with. i can just see why chlsea and city fans do not agree with these rules.

  • Comment number 85.


    77. At 1:55pm on 26 Feb 2011, IvIark wrote:

    "And United have responded saying those figures only include sales from the United Megastore. So as I said before, United have the 6th largest merchandising revenue in world football from sales at JUST ONE SHOP. Sorry that really doesn't support your argument at all."


    No.1 the 30.6m & 57.8m is not about merchandise but a second research by the same company on fanbase.

    No.2 - Yeah so SportMarkt for some reason restricted United's retail revenue to official stadium sales only whilst for the rest they included everything DOH

    Hence to expand the findings to European/worldwide sales you have to multiply only United's figures accordingly but for Barca Real etc you must keep them as they are.

    Very grown-up argumentation.




  • Comment number 86.

    @ 84,

    You still don't get it :)
    Leeds were spending excessively playing with the club's stability, aiming for the title in a silly way.
    At Portsmouth, they were appearing overspending even for nescafe. Have the foundings of that Cypriot administrator ever come out? Did Portsmouth manage to get rid of that Storrie guy who seemed immune to any attempt of ousting him? What do you need to read in order to understand there were dodgy things going on there?

    As for the salary-cap, such ideas belong to communism driven eastern Europe of old times, really. In open markets, you can't have salary caps. To give you an extraordinary example, did they put salary cap and take away bonuses from bankers after totally destroying the world monetary system? Or aren't we still being served the "best people want best salaries" chewing gum?

    Personally, I would like a menu meals-cap in all good restaurants, too but, I'm afraid, I'll never see it about :)

  • Comment number 87.


    81. At 2:03pm on 26 Feb 2011, Football_UK wrote

    It is only logical in such a way of thinking to mention the salary-cap. I do have to remind you, though, that football nowadays has left behind the ages where a football club was healthy financially if tickets were being sold to fans. Nowadays, football is a multi-billion industry and a few footballers, on a short career, help most for all this cash to be generated.


    ---------


    I don;t think anyone is saying that this will ever happen. I just think that because certain clubs already have such a huge head start (chelsea included) there is no such thing as financial fair play. The smaller teams don;t have a chance.

    For example, if sunderland this year had managed to get a Uefa cup place, They don;t qualify for financial fair play, but you could hardly call their spending excessive could you? is it fair that they would be ineligible?

    Like I said previously unless transfer fees are abolished, salary cap in place, a draft system and no long term contracts there is no such thing as financial fair play because the large clubs already have such a huge advantage

  • Comment number 88.

    77. At 1:55pm on 26 Feb 2011, IvIark wrote:

    "And United have responded saying those figures only include sales from the United Megastore. So as I said before, United have the 6th largest merchandising revenue in world football from sales at JUST ONE SHOP. Sorry that really doesn't support your argument at all."

    -------------

    I'm pretty sure that Utd responed by saying those figures only included sales from their megastoreSSSSSS, as in plural, not just the one megastore at the stadium but all of the official Manchester United megastores of which there are hundreds.

  • Comment number 89.

    People are so unaware of what the ffp rules actually do its hilarious. They are aimed at stopping chelsea and man city or any future billionaires play things from dominating the transfer market and putting prices on everything up making football unsustainable.

    They in no way effect a fulham styled journey from the lower leagues with a sugar daddy. They only stop clubs getting into europe so you can build a base for a top 10 team then from there you will have to use your profits if you ever want to be in europe. This rule helps out clubs like villa, liverpool, spurs and any other clubs who run on a profit who deserve to be in europe over clubs like city and chelsea.

    They will in no way affect united as we make massive profits, the debt is a glazer related issue, nothing to do with how the club is run.

    Perosnally i hope we are sold to anyone who doesnt have to borrow money to buy the club, id also rather we were run as a business as even then we would easily be able to compete with city, chelsea and real in the transfer market. Well not chelsea and city after next season :)

  • Comment number 90.

    King David Luiz wrote:

    > Once again you miss the point. I didnt say wigan could spend whatever they like

    So how are they to have a "fighting chance" if you're not alluding to unrestricted finances? Ultimately you've got a bee in your bonnet because Chelsea can't turn a profit and so you can't see how their spending can continue. And that is a fair personal concern for you even if no one else other than a Chelsea fan really cares about Chelsea. But it doesn't mean that Chelsea being given a blank chequebook from Abramovich is any fairer. Far from it, it means a small chosen few can outspend everyone even the teams who have built up a successful business through success on the pitch and the way they're marketed.

    You are obviously an advocate of a system where the person with the largest wallet is entitled to win everything at a cost to everyone else. Well most of the rest of the world including the football authorities disagree, and as I said, Abramovich and Mansour are both fully signed up supporters so you have no credible cause for complaint.

  • Comment number 91.

    nibs wrote:

    > No.1 the 30.6m & 57.8m is not about merchandise but a second
    > research by the same company on fanbase.
    >
    > No.2 - Yeah so SportMarkt for some reason restricted United's
    > retail revenue to official stadium sales only whilst for the
    > rest they included everything DOH
    >
    > Hence to expand the findings to European/worldwide sales you
    > have to multiply only United's figures accordingly but for
    > Barca Real etc you must keep them as they are.
    >
    > Very grown-up argumentation.

    -----------------

    You're just making up figures now. The Sport+Markt report is solely about profit earned through worldwide merchandise sales. But they didn't include worldwide merchandise sales for United, just those through the official Megastore.

    The very fact that United are posting profits that Barcelona and Real Madrid can't reach despite larger capacity ground, favourable TV deals and an exchange rate in favour of the Euro contradicts the point you believe you are making.

  • Comment number 92.

    King David Luiz wrote:

    > I'm pretty sure that Utd responed by saying those figures only
    > included sales from their megastoreSSSSSS, as in plural, not
    > just the one megastore at the stadium but all of the official
    > Manchester United megastores of which there are hundreds.

    Quoted: "The figures, suggesting the club's retail revenue is down by 10%, are based on the accounts of Manchester United Merchandising Limited and as a result represent the sales in just one store - namely the megastore at the club's Old Trafford stadium"

    United Commercial Director Richard Arnold: "the report represents an area of the world which contains only one in 14 of our 333 million global fans. The remaining 93%, because they are largely based in an area of rapid commercial growth such as China, the USA, India and Indonesia, have meant that 2010 was a record year for our partnership with Nike."

  • Comment number 93.

    90. At 3:36pm on 26 Feb 2011, IvIark wrote:
    King David Luiz wrote:

    > Once again you miss the point. I didnt say wigan could spend whatever they like

    So how are they to have a "fighting chance" if you're not alluding to unrestricted finances? Ultimately you've got a bee in your bonnet because Chelsea can't turn a profit and so you can't see how their spending can continue. And that is a fair personal concern for you even if no one else other than a Chelsea fan really cares about Chelsea. But it doesn't mean that Chelsea being given a blank chequebook from Abramovich is any fairer. Far from it, it means a small chosen few can outspend everyone even the teams who have built up a successful business through success on the pitch and the way they're marketed.

    You are obviously an advocate of a system where the person with the largest wallet is entitled to win everything at a cost to everyone else. Well most of the rest of the world including the football authorities disagree, and as I said, Abramovich and Mansour are both fully signed up supporters so you have no credible cause for complaint.


    -----------------------

    I did not mention chelsea. I know chelsea have spent outwith their means and believe it or not I agree that there should be restrictions and a long term objective to control the overall spending in football. I was merely making the point that the current idea is unfair for teams like hoffenheim, vilarreal etc and only helps the teams who are already successful (whos's success was often build through excessive spending 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago). Again nothing at all to do with chelsea. Unlike you i'm capable of being unbiased.

    you chose to ignore every other point I made yet again, if you want to go back and read it again and construct a proper response then fair enough, but there is no point in just picking one sentence and ignoring the rest.

    thanks :)

  • Comment number 94.

    Quoted: "The figures, suggesting the club's retail revenue is down by 10%, are based on the accounts of Manchester United Merchandising Limited and as a result represent the sales in just one store - namely the megastore at the club's Old Trafford stadium"

    United Commercial Director Richard Arnold: "the report represents an area of the world which contains only one in 14 of our 333 million global fans. The remaining 93%, because they are largely based in an area of rapid commercial growth such as China, the USA, India and Indonesia, have meant that 2010 was a record year for our partnership with Nike."

    ----------

    This quote merely states that the megastore is down 10% on sales. it DOES NOT however state that ONLY this megastore was used when calculating the overall turnover/profits of the clubs when compiling the list of the worlds top clubs.

  • Comment number 95.

    But I'm not just picking one point. There is no restriction whatsoever on investing heavily in a club, so if a smaller team who doesn't usually even compete in UEFA competition then they are free to do so, with the consequence that they will be excluded from those competitions for at least 3 years. If an investor has a long term plan for the club and the revenue to invest, then their immediate inclusion in European competition should be irrelevant.

    What you're suggesting is that the restriction should not be in place and whatever you say, that would ultimately means that anyone including City and Chelsea could continue to spend as much of their owners money as they like. And that's precisely the sort of skewed fair play that UEFA want to control and that Abramovich agreed must be curbed.

    Whatever way you paint it, Chelsea have agreed with the principle at the highest level, so if you have any complaint about it, you should take it up with Roman.

  • Comment number 96.


    91. At 3:43pm on 26 Feb 2011, IvIark wrote:

    "You're just making up figures now. The Sport+Markt report is solely about profit earned through worldwide merchandise sales."

    Are you deaf, THAT IS A DIFFERENT REPORT ABOUT FANBASE (the 333m kind)

    http://www.football-marketing.com/2010/09/09/fc-barcelona-most-popular-football-club-in-europe/


    "But they didn't include worldwide merchandise sales for United, just those through the official Megastore."

    All the clubs were OBVIOUSLY reported by the same criteria. They OBVIOUSLY didn't follow one rule for United another rule for the rest. What Gill says is OBVIOUSLY for public consumption.


    "The very fact that United are posting profits that Barcelona and Real Madrid can't reach despite larger capacity ground, favourable TV deals and an exchange rate in favour of the Euro contradicts the point you believe you are making."

    Barcelona and Real can't reach? But you have right in front of you that United are miles behind in merchandise profits:

    http://en.sportundmarkt.de/en/press/press-releases/2011-02-22.html

    They are way behind the top in the Deloitte rich list based on revenue:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12376035

    And they actually record losses whilst Real and Barca make record profits:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11499023
    http://www.football-marketing.com/2010/09/08/real-madrid-report-world-record-revenues/
    http://www.news42day.com/en/2010/07/fc-barcelona-has-registered-the-highest-ever-revenue-445-5-million-euros/


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_cuckoo_land




  • Comment number 97.

    King David Luiz wrote:

    This quote merely states that the megastore is down 10% on sales. it DOES NOT however state that ONLY this megastore was used when calculating the overall turnover/profits of the clubs when compiling the list of the worlds top clubs.

    ---------------------------

    You couldn't have interpreted that any more wrong if you tried. It doesn't only say Megastore sales are down, it says the report suggested the clubs "retail revenue" was down, and it certainly does clearly state that the report only included figures from the Old Trafford store.

    Full quote:

    "Meanwhile, the club has moved to correct recent figures detailed in articles based on a report by business analysts Sport+Markt. The figures, suggesting the club's retail revenue is down by 10%, are based on the accounts of Manchester United Merchandising Limited and as a result represent the sales in just one store - namely the megastore at the club's Old Trafford stadium, which saw a 10% drop in the number of games played at the stadium from 32 to 29."

  • Comment number 98.

    95. At 4:09pm on 26 Feb 2011, IvIark wrote:
    But I'm not just picking one point


    -------------

    You are ignoring the whole point completely it is not financially fair that huge clubs (INCLUDING CHELSEA!!!!!) are so far ahead to begin with that there is no chance of any other club catching them up. being excluded from europe stops clubs making money back and therefore becoming more financially stable.

    Lets say sunderland finish 6th this year, they will be struggling to be within the guidelined and therefore probably excluded from european competition. even though the involvement in such a competition would help to balance the revenues. without that money they have to sell off players and fall further down the table, never able to make the advances into europe which are needed to market a club globally.

    Example - Liverpool were successful in the 70's and 80's because they bought all the best players in britain. because they did that they are now, 30 years later considered (rightfully) a huge club. Why do they deserve to keep that status when it is gained as much through being unfair financially as say Man City now.

  • Comment number 99.

    Full quote:

    "Meanwhile, the club has moved to correct recent figures detailed in articles based on a report by business analysts Sport+Markt. The figures, suggesting the club's retail revenue is down by 10%, are based on the accounts of Manchester United Merchandising Limited and as a result represent the sales in just one store - namely the megastore at the club's Old Trafford stadium, which saw a 10% drop in the number of games played at the stadium from 32 to 29."

    once again this merely states why the megastore is down 10% on revenue. it does not say anything about manchester united being unfairly marked down on the report. i would be shocked if it was one rule for everyone else and another for utd, do you honestly believe only 1 of your stores was taken ito acout yet thousands of stores and websites worldwide for every other club?

  • Comment number 100.

    nibs, you're just showing the world you're not really sure what we've been talking about all along, and as such you're arguing against something which hasn't even been said. You apparently don't even have a basic understanding of the difference between revenue and profit so there's not much point in having an extended conversation with you about it.

    I'll try and make is as simple as possible to give you something to mull over:

    Real/Barca - Highest TURNOVER, Larger capacity ground, self-negotiated TV deals, favourable exchange rate for comparison conversion.

    Man Utd - Highest PROFITS, smaller capacity ground, group Premier League negotiated TV deal with even split, unfavourable exchange rate for comparison conversion.

    I can draw you a picture if it will help.

 

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