« Previous | Main | Next »

Into the Red with Manchester United

Post categories:

Eamonn Walsh | 15:26 UK time, Tuesday, 8 June 2010

So there is another football story in town after all.

The news that Manchester United's owners - the Glazer family - are £1.1bn in debt - managed to push World Cup build-up off the back - and front - pages around the world.

The revelation that the Glazer family's business interests are £400m further in debt than previously understood, to be aired on Panorama tonight, has garnered huge global attention.

Manutd.com proclaims United as the world's most popular football team - sustained success on the field and clever marketing off it has seen to that.

The coverage of this latest twist did little to suggest that position is under threat.

Stories in Australia, the United States, Canada and the centre of the football world right now, South Africa however, spread an unhappy picture of United's finances to an eager global audience.

The club maintains that its owners' debts will not impact on Sir Alex Ferguson's team. United's recent collection of trophies appears to bear this out.

The fans certainly hope so. Unofficial fan forums like Redcafe and M-U-F-C however, show that many fans, not just those with red running through their veins, remain to be convinced that this level of debt can be sustained.

Of course, it's no surprise fans with green and gold running through their veins continue to be unhappy. Must, the independent United supporters association and founders of the campaign demanding the Glazer family relinquish control of the club, provided the initial research into the Glazer family's finances. Further details are on Must activist Andy Green's blog.

For their part United have not officially commented on Panorama's story. But in the US a statement released by a spokesperson for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Glazers' American Football League team, said that the 'Bucs' are 'financially well-positioned'. The reaction was decidedly mixed.

Feel free to use this blog to let us know your thoughts arising from tonight's Panorama - remember it is on BBC One at 2235BST.


  • Comment number 1.

    Please feel free to tell the Panorama team what you thought of tonight's programme, Man United - Into the Red. We welcome all feedback. The programme will be available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer from tomorrow.

  • Comment number 2.

  • Comment number 3.

    Disappointed with this programme, thought it was going to add something meaningful to the debate instead of just rehashing the well known and much picked over points on the Man Utd bond issue and the Glazer PIK debt.

    I am no Glazer fan, but the whole gnomes thing was very childish for a programme like Panorama which is supposed to be BBC1's premier investigative reporting show. The whole tone of the programme was smug and superior.

    Why not broaden out the focus with a bit more insight into to the level of debts outside of Man U and Liverpool (which we can read about every day in the press). Where was the analysis of Al Fayed's Fulham (which merited a 5 second mention) which as you stated has £200m in debt with a much smaller fan base and which is arguably in an even more perilous position than Man Utd and Liverpool.

    A disappointing take on a topic with massive public interest.

  • Comment number 4.

    It was a shame that you showed Exeter City but didn't mention that they are the future on how a club should be run. They are owned by the fans have had sucessful promotions and are in the black.

  • Comment number 5.

    i was looking forward to this programme all day and when it finally aired i was left very dissappointed. i don't profess to know what your budget for a show is, but i think it would have been better spent investigating the issue rather than filming jousts and garden gnomes and sending a crew to the us.

    the financial state of the premier league and english football is a massive subject and well deserving of a spot of investigative journalism.
    but i believe that you had the wrong target. its not the glazers, they are just business men out to make a quick buck.

    your first points on the show were very good indeed, when you pointed out that supporting a club isnt like going to tescos. no matter what my club does, i will always support it, but i could quite happily change supermarkets each week without a problem.

    i believe that the club structure is under attack from money, debt, and any charlatan who can type up a half decent proposal. the real enemy of club football in the uk is the fa and the epl. they allow the problems to happen. the way these organisations are structured leaves a lot to be desired. i don't want the government to run every single part of life, but getting rid of the fa (a private company) and replacing it with a state run non profit organisation would be preferable. they cant even hold onto their top people because if the devisiveness of their members.

    i was also dissappointed that you failed wholesalely to distinguish between different types of debt. you casually mentioned that arsenal had 400 million debt, and said no more about them. then you carried on about united so that anyone not in the know might think that arsenal were in the same situation as united. uniteds debts were put on them frm their owners in an LBO. the same with Liverpool. fulham and villa have debts from borrowing money for players, the same as pompey. Arsenal have a debt for building a stadium. this debt is carefully managed like a mortgage on a house. this debt wasnt for short term gain on the field, but for infrastructure.

    you also failed to point out that the interest on the piks is being rolled over every year and added to the total. also missed was that in the prospectus that united published before their bond issue, it mentions that OT and Carrington were not included as collateral. this means that the glazers can keep these assets and rent them back to the club, (or man city)

    i firmly believe that there was 10 minutes of information and 20 minutes of fill in your program. noel chomsky would no doubt have something to say about it if he didn't believe that sport was just a way of controlling the masses.

    i urge you to revisit the whole issue of football finance in the uk and show both sides of the story (manu vs arsenal for instance). i also urge you to find some way to get the fa, the epl and the govt to talk to you. it's not as though they've got anything to hide is it?

    maybe a brief look at the issue of corruption in uefa and fifa would help. then perhaps you could fill two 1/2 hour programmes instead of ten minutes.

  • Comment number 6.

    The Glazer's have to leave sooner or later. I think that the FA have got to do something to protect the clubs from foreign businessmen who are just wrecking them. Liverpool, Man Utd and West Ham are all examples of clubs that have been crippled with debt because, of foreign owners that don't know what they are doing. I wrote about the debt at united on my blog please feel free to check it out and comment



More from this blog...


These are some of the popular topics this blog covers.

Latest contributors

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.