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Can Man Utd spend?

Robert Peston | 11:15 UK time, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

This week's epistle to fans from Arsene Wenger muses on whether Manchester Utd will derive advantage from being knocked out of the FA Cup by Leeds Utd.

Man U's Wayne Rooney and Dimitar BerbatovThe always counter-intuitive Arsenal supremo points out that FA Cup matches tend to be hard on the heels of Champions League games - which implies that Man Utd's players will be fresher for the matches that really matter.

Bankers however take a different view of Man U's humiliation by a team two divisions below.

They point out that debt-laden Man U needs posteriors on seats in as many games as possible to service the interest charge - and that the 3rd round exit from the cup deprives the club of important revenue.

One banker with a close knowledge of the club put it like this to me: Manchester Utd as a business is a delicately balanced financial machine, which works when the team is winning and revenues are pouring in, but where there is not much of a financial cushion to absorb the inevitable occasional flop.

He said that the huge debt that was taken on when the Glazer family bought the club was predicated on the basis that Man Utd would have decent runs in the Champions League and FA Cup in most years - which of course is typically what has happened.

The important numbers are these, as of 30 June 2008, the date of the last published accounts for Man Utd's holding company, Red Football Joint Venture Ltd.

Red Football JV had £519m of secured bank loans, on which it paid £45.4m.

And it had £175.5m of so-called payment-in-kind notes, where the interest is rolled up into the principal rather than paid in cash. The interest rate on these is 14.25%.

So the total annual interest bill was just under £70m (including rolled-up interest).

That compares with a net cash inflow from operating activities (largely profit before interest and taxation) of £88m.

So in that year, if Man Utd did not want to increase its overall level of debt, it had less than £20m to spend on players and other investments.

In fact, it spent £43m - so its indebtedness increased, by just under £33m to £699m gross in total.

Now Man Utd fans would presumably say that was money well spent, since the club won the Premier League for the umpteenth time last year.

But the big question is whether the current level of indebtedness is excessive for this point in both the footballing cycle and in the economic cycle.

To state the obvious, post-Ronaldo Man Utd does not look as invincible as last year's team. And a weak British economy deprives all clubs of incremental revenues.

Which is why Man Utd is looking at ways to reinforce itself in a financial sense.

As has been widely reported, Man Utd is considering taking on new debt to pay off some of the old debt.

According to bankers, it would like to raise around £600m through a bond issue.

The reason is that - in theory at least - the interest payable on the bond would be significantly less than the interest on the payment-in-kind notes (PIKs): Man Utd would probably have to pay around 8% interest on a bond, which looks very attractive compared with the 14.25% interest on the PIKs.

But here's the funny thing. The interest on the much bigger bank loan of £519m is very competitive. It ranges between 2.125% and 5% over Libor. So right now it should be paying no more than 5.5% - which is cheap money.

It does not seem to make sense to pay off that low-interest debt with the proceeds of a bond paying a higher interest rate.

But that's to ignore the problem that the burden of the PIK is growing exponentially, because the 14.25% interest rate applies to the original principal plus the rolled up interest.

In other words, Red Football JV is this year probably paying 14.25% on PIKs with a value of £200m - or more than £28m in interest. Which would imply that next year it will be paying 14.25% on almost £230m, and so on, to financial ruin.

The other important point is that Man Utd's banks are the so-called senior creditors and have first claim on any money deployed to repay loans, so they would probably not allow the PIKs to be redeemed unless some or all of their loans were also repaid.

So there is a logic to a comprehensive refinancing via a bond issue.

This is a long-winded way of saying that the UK's most formidable football team is not without its financial issues.

Which is also to say that the relative immunity of top-flight football from the impact of credit crunch and recession has been delayed, not avoided.

The simplest way for Man Utd to alleviate the immediate financial pressure would be to spend very little in the January transfer window.

And it certainly would not be the only club to sit on its hands rather than buy new players.

With clubs like Portsmouth and Crystal Palace in serious difficulties, right now there are arguably more forced sellers of players than buyers with deep pockets.

Man City may have a bottomless purse. But the noises from Chelsea suggest even it isn't likely to spend like it once did.

Perhaps this is the moment when the transfer market will crack and player prices fall significantly.

Which - of course - would further weaken the finances of clubs where the value of players represents a significant proportion of balance-sheet assets.

The finances of the Premier League are probably as perilously poised as the finances of the British government.


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  • Comment number 1.

    The last person I expected ever to mention the mighty Whites :D

  • Comment number 2.

    Manchester United : Big Boo Boo Day (*)
    (*)=Gladiators (Studio One)

  • Comment number 3.

    The Premier League is a likely candidate for the next bail-out. After all the government needs to provide bread and circuses or there will be troubles ahead.

  • Comment number 4.

    Another solution to raise more money for Man Utd would be to sell the TV rights to their own matches. This is what happens in Spain with Barcelona and Real Madrid. However this end the collective TV rights that underpins Premier League finance and would even more concentrate money in their hands, and make the Premier league even more of a procession.

    Or they could go for that '39th game'

    Or they could simply pay players less money. The high wages are the root cause of the problem

  • Comment number 5.

    There will be a big change in football this year - because so many clubs are heavily geared in a world where credit is now scarce.

    Whilst most big names will undoubtedly stave off bankruptcy - because there is always some rich playboy who is interested in being a club owner - there will be many smaller casualties along the way.

    I don't fancy Portsmouth's chances much, and certainly Watford are in a precarious position. I can't ever remember a Premiership club struggling to pay it's players before.
    Globalisation has it's downsides too - the slowing global market will hit football clubs hard as their 'fans revenue' falls. The ticket sales are no longer relevant (well not at the moment) - but they will become more important as they return as the main source of vital revenue, especially for those big teams not progressing in the Champions league.

    As for these comments:

    "Manchester Utd as a business is a delicately balanced financial machine, which works when the team is winning and revenues are pouring in, but where there is not much of a financial cushion to absorb the inevitable occasional flop."

    ...that's exactly how the entire Economy works - a 'just in time' mentality - assuming there will always be more success around the corner and never planning or expecting a downward turn.

    Unfortunately this makes us very vulnerable to sudden and unexpected change.

  • Comment number 6.


    I said as much some time ago, the EPL is built on a MOUNTAIN of debt. The future of Englands club IS on the line IMO.

    e.g. Man Utd, 800million of debt, Imagine servicing that with interest rates at 12% or 15%

  • Comment number 7.

    4. At 12:17pm on 05 Jan 2010, Matt Durbin wrote:

    "Or they could simply pay players less money. The high wages are the root cause of the problem"

    ....but the market sets those wages - are you saying the market is wrong?

    High wages are paid based on the expectation of future success.

    Bankers do it, footballers do it, in fact every business does it to some degree.

    The problem is that once it's paid you cannot ask for it back, so if the expected success doesn't arrive then the company is over-stretched, it then becomes a 'national issue' and the Government has to step in to save jobs.

    Maybe if there was an honesty in business which said that 'booms cannot last forever' then we might not see so many places going belly up in recession.

    Remember the media poking fun at Arsene Wenger because he wouldn't spend huge money on big name players - well he's laughing at them now as they slowly loose their jobs as papers get wound up this year.

    Arsenal are one of the best placed clubs - why? simply because they steered clear of greed and the assumption that success will always follow investment funded by borrowing.

    A big HA HA HA HA HA to all those jobless reporters who were involved in the criticism of Wenger.

    (and no, I'm not an Arsenal fan - but I do recognise a sensible business plan when I see one)

  • Comment number 8.

    This only proves what one investor told me a few years ago:
    "Watch football....don't invest in it!"

  • Comment number 9.

    As the shareholders own the PIK notes, why don't they just cancel them, reduce the size or rate of interest payable? The 14% accrued interest is just being added to the money they lent the club to make the purchase.

  • Comment number 10.

    United are too big to fail - print them some cash Gordo.

    Writings it is lose not loose.

  • Comment number 11.

    WOTW I love your posts but I will point out that the word is spelt lose not loose.

    Manchester United is in a bizarre situation. Do the Glazer family actually have any liquid assets? They seem to be these 'billionaire's' who dont actually have any money.

    All they seem to have done is leverage the whole club against the loan they took & then use the profits generated to service the debt, anyone could have done that.

    They were in successive Champions League finals yet the debt is growing, the chances of continuous success in that competition are small so surely income will drop over time & with the Euro strengthening against Stirling then the prize money has actually dropped for English clubs in comparison to the top Spanish sides, hence why they are now buying the top players from this country as opposed to the other way around.

    All it would take is for Sky to offer less money next time around for the tv rights and the whole house of cards would fall for a number of sides.

    How many clubs in our top flight, despite more money flowing in than ever before, are operating beyond their means. Portsmouth, Hull, Wigan, the list goes on.

    Throw in Liverpool's mounting problems & one of these big sides could become the next Leeds United. I wonder how it has been allowed to happen, do any of the members of the boards have financial sense? They have been advised time & again the no more than 50% of turnover should be spent of the wages of the whole club.

    I wouldnt point out Arsenal as the clever ones in all of this, they banked on a continuing house price boom to fund the sale of the apartments built on the old Highbury ground & borrowed the money for the Emirates on these estimates. This has left them short of where their anticipated income was forecast & also have a debt running into the 100's of millions.

    I think all of the Sky4, Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool & Arsenal, have a combined debt of £2 billion. How has this been allowed to happen?

  • Comment number 12.

    Spot on WOTW.....again. We all have to get used to consuming less, even footballers.

    Leeds were in a similar mess a few years ago but are climbing back now and as a supporter I'm still basking in the warmth of their victory (sorry couldn't resist mentioning it again). It seems the era for underdogs to utilise the lessons they've learned via surviving the hard times to get back into the competition. The game will be better for it in the long run.

  • Comment number 13.

    Robert, you can add Liverpool to the list of clubs in imminent peril as they have not qualified for the Champions Lague knockout stages and are very heavily in debt to RBS (i.e. you and I) and the Bank of Wachovia.

    With Stephen Gerrard approaching the twilight of his years, as a saleable asset, the only player worth much on their books is Fernando Torres.

    You blogged on the problems Liverpool were in, which can only have got worse with a poor performance on field this season, in the middle of last year.

    Common understanding in football is that much of the Ronaldo transfer fee went on keeping the debtors happy and who, if anyone, United buy in the transfer window will be very informative.

    They don't face the easiest of last 16 games in the Chmpions League either.

  • Comment number 14.

    I still believe that the sporting industry is good for investment in these times.

    Ofcourse the future of the club depends on how well they will go in competitions like the Champions League but thats what happens in more or less all the companies. I think the best asset of Manchester United is Sir Alex. He knows what to do , and how to keep the team competitive even without big players.

    That will have a result of continuing income for the club that will eventually lead them out of this financial problem.

    The problem is what if they dont make it in the competitions? Or what if Sir Alex retires?

  • Comment number 15.

    Robert, I forgot about West Ham who are also tied up in the Iceland bank crisis as well.

    and Hull

    Any chance of a blog re Ieland and the referendum on financial armageddon?

  • Comment number 16.

    As a Leeds fan I enjoyed your post today just as much as the victory on Sunday.

    In these economic blogs it is good to remember from time to time that some things are still priceless.

  • Comment number 17.

    And there in lies the whole problem of having an economy built on debt, the only thing that can ever flourish in recessionary times are manufacturing industries, we no longer have them so are going to suffer for the lack of foresight for many many years.

    For the first time ever i found myself agree with Mr Balls, that mandarin should be included in the school curriculum as that is where all economic focus for the next generation will be.

  • Comment number 18.

    Only my rickety memory, but I thought the amount of debt they originally used to purchase the company was under £600m? Implying they now owe more than they started out with.

    Presumably the intention all along has not been to reduce borrowings, merely to sell the club for a lot more than the Glazers bought it for, after a few years? At least they'd be "alright Jack." (But plenty of doubt in that now?)

    Whilst they own Man U., publicly, they obviously want to give an impression of cherishing the club, but it doesn't wash - just more rich folk with banker's for friends - trying to make a quick buck? If Man U. goes down AFTER the Glazers sell out will it genuinely matter to them?....Not in the slightest!

    The balance of the team is shattered at the moment - you basically have to have a consistently capable central defence. Sadly they're injured.

    But debt costs of £70M!? Seriously suggests the club is not being managed well OFF the pitch, (by the "suits.") Trouble is that's just NO surprise any more. If you're a Man U. shareholder you might want to sell the shares and identify with the club by buying a shirt instead.

  • Comment number 19.

    First the banks, now football. Where will all end?

    But what do we expect when you give away such wages for no performance? I accept that a footballer could have a short working life ( but then again who does these days) This is not the peak of the football problem, more the visible part of the problem.
    Without the silly money paid by sky most of the game would disappear back to jumpers for goalposts

  • Comment number 20.

    I never thought I'd see an article that was a cross of 606 and Peston [both of which essential to my daily digest].

    To be brief, the EPL is yet another result of the "big boom" of the early to mid 2000s. It shows the same symptoms, no surprise, as those of the housing boom. Overinflation, promises made on brittle flows of income and the neglect of the 'core support'.

    With the EPL however, there will be winners - and it will not be the money-spinning suits. Wise teams such as Arsenal and my beloved Aston Villa who have spent little [in comparison to Liverpool and Man Utd] are hopefully stable for the future - whereas Liverpool especially are in a sense, Nationalised [owe debt to RBS and Wachovia, of whom the former is owned, the British Taxpayer. Hmm.]

    Another correspondent has cited how Leeds United paid the price and stiffened up - by learning how to survive in the hard times, teams like they and other wisely-financed sporting clubs will enjoy prosperity both financially and sportingly once the "Big Sky Four" get into difficulty - afterall, the FA were keen to penalise Luton Town and others for financial irregularities, so why not the likes of Man Utd and Liverpool when the time comes?

  • Comment number 21.

    Personally, although i'm still suspicious about the Glazers and their plans, should borrowing be restructured to commerical rates of 5.5%, debt payments would be around £33m on operating profits of £88m, this dosn't look too an unmanagable a beast. Ronaldo's wage bill saving may also be quite significant on operating profit. Even in a global downturn the Manchester United brand is still very strong. I can't see Fergeson not getting the players he wants quite yet.

    Arsenal's Business plan imo certainly had an element of risk to it, RP's blog on 14th July 2009 has Arsenal borrowed too much? was a good appraise.

  • Comment number 22.

    Spareusthelies there are no Manchester United shareholders, it is a private enterprise since the Glazer family takeover. The stockmarket fell out of love with Football a while back.

    It matters not how good Ferguson is with ot without money (& his history suggests he likes to spend) if they cant compete for players then they will suffer, no team has spent little and had long term success.

    Wenger does spend contrary to popular belief & they have won anything since Vieira kicked the winning penalty against Man Utd nearly 5 years ago.

    Italian clubs went through this crisis and are just starting to come out of it, only rich men like Morratti have kept Inter up there.

    This has been coming a long time, look at Chelsea, they are basically underwritten by a oligarch & they still lose £45 million in a 'good year'.

    The best thing that happened to my club Newcastle was relegation, it has made us slash our wage bill & stop living in la la land like most credit hungry people in this country have been, the tide is going out, lets see who has been swimming naked!

  • Comment number 23.

    18 - I was reasonably under the impression that there were only a couple of united share holders... Glazers and someone they gave one share to as a symbolic gesture?

    11 -
    few billionaires actually keep much in liquid form. Cash is one of the worst returns you can keep your money in. The point is, when buying a club like Utd, you cant load it with debt before you buy it. You have to indicate you have the financial resources to complete the purchase, before you can then look at loading it with debt.

    7 - The forbes football club list of 2008 shows Arsenal with 107% debt, this actually gave it the most debt (as a percentage of club value) of the top 25 clubs (by value) in the world. The only close rivals were Newcastle at 96% Chelsea at 92% (which is now 0% after Abramovic, from what I gathered, wrote off the debt?), Rangers at 86% and my club, Inter, at 77% (which is all owed to the president anyway so it doesnt matter).

  • Comment number 24.

    i'm no expert on finance, but why do Man U have debts with 14% interest rates atached to them - this seems a very high rate for recent years. Don't suppose they've thought of using Quick Quid and it's 2600% apr!

  • Comment number 25.

    If foreign footballers based in Britian were to turn around and kick their balls straight into thier own goals as hard as they could, they could not expect high wages or a sports car, would they? So why would we make an exception for foreign bankers based in Britian? Unlike footballers, they have no rare talent, and they only exist through cronyism.

    Money-counting can be done from anywhere in the world, and it is only a matter of a year or two before the Internet automates the "City" out of existence anyway.

    As foreign bankers in Britain (unlike footballers) provide little entertainment value (except when they get sacked), there is also no excuse for extending thier visas.

  • Comment number 26.

    Manchester United are probably not the club most in peril. Although success on the pitch is not a foregone conclusion the Glazers will have looked at a top 4 placing as a minimum pre-requisite to their business plan. An FA cup run would not figure highly in this but a run in the Champions League definitely would. I'm not defending the Glazers, as they have done nothing but leech from the fans and their financial acumen should be drawn into question in particular for the high interest loan which has the potential to do some real damage to our club. However being knocked out of the FA cup and denied revenue from 3 or 4 matches will be minor at worst in its financial impact although it hurts our pride immensely. Robert - you could at least have put a figure on the potential FA cup revenue we lost to bolster your altogether flimsy argument.

    As for the other clubs, Liverpool are probably in a worse state given that their stadium capacity is far smaller, they seem to have a bigger rebuilding job, they have no players coming through their youth set up and they have just been kicked out of the Champs League. On the plus side they seem to have owners who are more ready to put their hand in their pocket - time will tell if the Glazers are willing to. I doubt it.

    Arsenal are not out the water either with absolutely no silverware in the last 5 years although as a business model they are probably ok given they still have to pay for their stadium.

    Chelsea will be in real trouble if Abramovich cuts his losses but apart from that are probably ok as he seems to be the closest to a football fan and probably will continue to dig into his pocket to support them if his outside business continues to be strong.

    City will have some leeway but ADUG will have a value in mind for the club and will be unwilling to spend too much more than the value between their initial investment and increasing the value of the club. That said they are probably banking on breaking United completely so they might be willing to invest another billion in that aim with a view of replacing their support before they start looking at making an operating profit.

    The overall picture, and this is something Robert should have focussed on, is the potential catastrophic effect foreign ownership is having on the game in this country. As one of our few successful industries this is a real concern. This is something that Spain seem to have recognised in the huge investment of the banks in Real Madrid to put La Liga back at the top of the football tree.

    Robert 5/10 - more interesting stories about.

  • Comment number 27.

    Maybe it will give the smaller clubs more of a chance.

  • Comment number 28.

    #26 United Dreamer...

    'As one of our few successful industries...'

    Really?! How exactly are we defining success?! If you replace successful with 'indebted' I might agree. Perhaps we care about it more than most (sorry but I personally don't) but thats an emotional response rather than a rational economic assessment. Football owes too much money and the gap between footballers earnings and core earning (excluding TV rights) is too great.

    Every year each team rolls the dice as to where they will end up and consequently, how much money they will make. This then impacts on what they can spend next season, or rather, how much polish they can apply to the dice. Forgive me as I stifle a yawn- the economic/business side of football is almost as exciting as the actual football in that sense...not very.

    I can't really see why any 'fan' would care about foreign ownership apart from the emotive argument that they're not real which case you should look at most of the team members! Such a high proportion of foreign workers in any other industry throughout an economic downturn and with rising unemployment would cause outrage!

  • Comment number 29.

    No 7 says "....but the market sets those wages - are you saying the market is wrong?"

    the market is clearly wrong when it comes to footballers wages. that is why clubs are loaded with debt. they have consistently spent more than they have earned, and generally don't have much to show for it.

    the problem goes right down the leagues (at least in the UK). footballers wages are only 'sustained' by generous benefactors and occasional debt write-offs. if most clubs lose money every year, and have little prospect of seeing that change, and if most clubs biggest cost (by far) is the wage bill.. then it follows that the wages are too high, and the market has got it wrong.

    manyoo are a different case to some others as their debt has come from the takeover rather than general financial mismanagement.

  • Comment number 30.

    I don't follow the premier league as to me it's not a real football, but if I did I would never support Chelsea club. It's an utter disgrace for the UK to allow Abramovich to purchase it. It's pure money laundering.

    He is a Russian oligarch who has deprived millions of Russians from their livelihood.

  • Comment number 31.

    Didn't I comment on this being likely yesterday?

    Given that 25% of the population actively voted against the payment to produce this referendum (apparently it's a vote where people get to decide things - not that this country would know anything about that) - it doesn't have much chance of being a 'yes' vote for payment. (generally people vote against paying their debts, not for it)

    ...and then what? war is it? I wonder what the lunatics in Government here will do to resolve this one.

    Economic crisis phase 3 - Sovereign debt crisis.

  • Comment number 32.

    Robert, you forgot to mention Red Football bought a £450m LIBOR swap at a fixed 5.0075% which runs until 31/12/2013. This means they have lost the best aspects of having variable-rate finance just at the time it would have been most beneficial.

    See the RFJV accounts, page 39 (or 41 of the pdf).

  • Comment number 33.

    11. At 12:48pm on 05 Jan 2010, sirHellsBells wrote:
    10. At 12:47pm on 05 Jan 2010, truths33k3r wrote:

    Lambasted for my spelling!

    When you type at the speed oof light yoou ooccassioonally get a few additioonal 0's in the equatioon.

    Better too many 0's than too many AAAA's as per SpAAAAAAARTAAAAACUSMAAAAAARTYR

  • Comment number 34.

    14. At 1:02pm on 05 Jan 2010, Antonis wrote:

    "I still believe that the sporting industry is good for investment in these times. "

    Taxi for Antonis - Broadmoor please...

    Football has never and will never be a good investment - just ask Mike Ashley. Shares are sold on loyalty and not sound investment principles (if they even exist!)

  • Comment number 35.

    Football and sport isn't about the game it's about the money. Grown men would not be doing these things if millions of pounds weren't involved to encourage them.

    Remembering the football riots years ago and it seems to me that the government bought them off to keep the peace. Now all of that debt has piled up to the stratosphere well players just aren't interested in the game if they aren't paid. When you can kick a football around anywhere you like in public facilities for free.

    Now that all the questions have been asked the question is what kind of future is there for the inhabitants of the land when if certain people don't get what they want they resort to violence?

  • Comment number 36.

    A few of you have pointed out the method which the Glazers are (or have) been using to purchase the club.

    This is almost identical to the model buy to let landlords have been using for the last 5 years. Buy, rennovate, re-load with debt, buy, rennovate etc.

    ....and look how that's turning out.

    It's worse with a football club because there is no 'rennovation' stage and therefore no real value is ever added - you're simply using up any spare equity in the club.

    As for not holding cash (because it gives the worst return) - well this is true, but how much is cash worth when you need to pay a £100,000 bill and all you have are some giant illiquid assets which cannot be re-mortgaged.'s called a cash flow problem and it's the downfall of many businesses - their total assets are worth more than their debts, but a lack of cash forces foreclosure.
    The same is happening all around in the BTL market, landlords, some very established, are getting turned over by a lack of cash and a lack of desire from the banks to lend to cover the cash hole. The distressed assets going up for sale then makes the problem worse for other landlords in a similar position.

    Just in time folks, there is a penalty to all this 'financial efficency'.

  • Comment number 37.

    23. At 1:27pm on 05 Jan 2010, Henry

    This is what I mean by well run:

    Profit before tax £36.7m

    Debts £416m

    Interest payable £26m

    I.e. your income covers your outgoings and debt repayments (and then some)
    I don't know where you get 107% debt from - 107% of what?

    Not all clubs are in this position today. Arsenal also have the advantage of 'home grown' players (even if they're not all British) making them saleable assets as they are still young.

    Compare that to Liverpool for example - where there are only a few good apples and the rest are starting to go sour.

  • Comment number 38.

    Pawns or player huh? How can you exclude TV rights? That success of the premiership is directly associated with this income.

    As to the effect of foreign ownership on fans, ask any United fan about the compulsory cup ticket purchase scheme and the 50% increase in ticket price since the Glazers came in. Add to that, our nett spend on players since the Glazers arrive is 1 million per season and that should sum up nicely our experience of foreign ownership.

    The profits are also going out of the game and out of the country and are patently not being reinvested in the game that is the concern. I don't know why people are complaining about Abramovich, the exception to this trend, because he is the one instance of an owner pumping money into the game without a profit. ADUG have a long term game but ultimately they will be looking to profit from the investment as well.

  • Comment number 39.

    29. At 2:09pm on 05 Jan 2010, deshnoodle wrote:

    "the market is clearly wrong when it comes to footballers wages. that is why clubs are loaded with debt. they have consistently spent more than they have earned, and generally don't have much to show for it."

    ....and I presume for bankers too - so why are we using the market to set wages?
    If something doesn't work - why persist in using it?

  • Comment number 40.

    30. At 2:15pm on 05 Jan 2010, plamski wrote:

    "He is a Russian oligarch who has deprived millions of Russians from their livelihood."

    Come on - those peasants had a fair choice - hand over their shares to the Oligarths or starve to death! Welcome to the free market Economy Russian peasants - isn't this what Perestroika promised?

  • Comment number 41.

    Man utd will be fine. they just need to sell the good young players to juventus and the rest to fraybentos.

  • Comment number 42.


    Wenger does spend contrary to popular belief & they have won anything since Vieira kicked the winning penalty against Man Utd nearly 5 years ago.


    Now I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure Wenger's net 'spend' in the last 5 years is actually a positive figure.

  • Comment number 43.

    Just a few points if I may, as most of what I might otherwise say has already been covered.

    1) Sky tv money - some suggest this may go down next time. I disagree with this because next time ESPN, backed by Disney, will be coming in strong which may push the price up!

    2) Man U figures - the results that Robert quotes are pre-tax. With all other things being equal, tax on a profit of £88m at 28%, is £24.64m.

    3) The Man U figures quoted by Robert only mention the Ronaldo sale. Again, with all other things being equal, if the net proceeds were £80m (ignoring agents etc) then this will be pure profit since it is likely that the original cost of acquisition (£13m?) has already been written off.

    4) Arsenal may have well structured finance, however, there original plan is still likely to have been based on a certain return on the development of Highbury and this return must surely be less now. That said, Arsenal are profitable and therefore any reduction in income from redevelopment probably just extends the repayment period slightly rather than presents any catastrophic risk to the sustainability of their business.

  • Comment number 44.

    39. At 2:54pm on 05 Jan 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:

    ....and I presume for bankers too - so why are we using the market to set wages?
    If something doesn't work - why persist in using it?

    no, bankers bonus have been paid from profits. maybe not always 'good' profits, but profits nonetheless. if all the banks had been visibly losing money for years and years then we could question what they pay their people - but that's not been the case.

    the reason the football wage market gets away with being so wrong is that sensible business logic isn't applied in football clubs. football is full of people who are chasing dreams.. and don't much care what it costs. some can afford it, some cannot... but those who can are setting the benchmarks, and those who can't are usually too weak to step off the crazy-train and live sensibly.

  • Comment number 45.

    MOTW no worries about your spelling, like I said I enjoy your posts more tham most, I was just being a bit nit picky, apologies.

    As for Man Utd, careful what you wish for. By becoming a PLC the became rich beyond their wildest dreams but this left them open to a foreign buyer coming in and buying those shares. The fans used to complain when Edwards was there, saying he didt care & took more out than he put in. That might have been true but at least you werent the best part of £700 million in debt.

  • Comment number 46.

    How do we overcome bad behaviour on the pitch by overpaid players. How do we get money back in to the lower league and non professional clubs.

    The answer is to fine Premier laegue players £25K when they pick up a yellow card and £50K for a red card. The Championship clubs could have lower fines The fines levied could be split between the clubs throughout the football league and other lower level football organisations.

    Either it would change behaviour, or it would benefit others to whom football is a true sport rather than the cheat at all opportunities game that we se so often at the top level.

    Food for thought!

  • Comment number 47.

    The Premier League is a giant Ponzi scheme with clear evidence that most of the clubs owe large amounts of cash to each other for deferred transfer fees. It only needs one or two clubs to fail and the whole league will come tumbling down. You read it here first !!

  • Comment number 48.

    Remember... Football only requires one ball whereas motorsport :-)

  • Comment number 49.

    Various people have been commenting on Chelsea, but their debts have been 'more or less' cleared:

    Of course they had the big advantage of it being interest free, and if they need more in the future they will get it.

    I can see big trouble ahead for Man U. No money to spend, manager set to leave (especially if Milan knock them out of the CL)...

  • Comment number 50.

    Man U did receive £80 millions for Ronaldo which makes their balance sheet slightly more palatable for it's bankers and shareholders, but the PIKs were always going to present a problem. In reality, revenue isn't enough to cover their debt service. Bonds with a coupon of 8% will probably sell, but re-financing isn't the answer. The Glazers need to re-capitalise. And they're not on their own. Liverpool, Rangers, Celtic, Portsmouth, West Ham... are all top heavy with debt. For as long as fans attend matches and buy the merchandise there's a chance they can survive.

  • Comment number 51.

    I think that the other thing to point out is that the Arsenal debt is secured by a stadium. Although given the property crash this may not have been as wise an investment as it might have been, it is still a much more stable investment than playing the player stockmarket, buying and selling players who's stock can rise and fall, seemingly arbitarily.

    If we take Dimitar Berbatov as an example, he was bought for 33.8 million, but in today's climate, it is difficult to see anyone paying anything like that for him now.

    At least the Arsenal stadium is gaining money for the club by increased gate revenue, and will be paid off in a (relatively) short time. In business terms, it was a legitimate investment with a definite pay-back period and therefore a traditional business debt. Player investments where clubs gamble on players values going up are far more risky. Essentially, the club are creating a bubble on the club's success.

    The better the club does, the higher the value of its players are valued, the more debt they can take on, but if (and some would say, it is more like when) the club starts to lose, then the club's players are deemed to fail also and the club suffers a double hit. Not only do the clubs performance based revenues drop, but also part of the capital investment in the players is lost as well.

    Therefore the Arsenal strength is that there is no reason to assume that even if the Arsenal team loses, that the value of the stadium asset will drop to any great extent. It is the coupling of a team's major capital assets to team performances that creates the risk.

  • Comment number 52.

    #46 poorold pensioner

    Whilst the idea has some merit in principal, there are some really dodgy cards issued (and others aren't issued when they should be) which would undermine the fairness you mention.

    #47 John Oliphant

    If all the clubs do owe transfer fees as you state, surely, if they were 'all' written off, the status quo would pretty much remain?

  • Comment number 53.

    Youre better equipped than i am to comment on economic reality, but if its banks youre relying on for some logic and insight into what Man U are about, then i feel sorry for you. They are best equipped to discuss and create economic malaise rather than offer sound advice as we all now know.

    Man U are now arguably less pressured at CL time via having no FA Cup to consider and by which time the CC will be done with. If league form remains good and CL progress follows then bums on seats will follow in anticipation of success in primary tournaments. I have no idea of knowing what will happen, but your premise that the loss of the FA Cup will be a disaster is about 10 years behind the times. Man U told the FA what their slant on the Cup was in 2000 and they havent done so bad since.

  • Comment number 54.

    Yet again Mr. Peston sums up the financial world in language we can actually understand.

    The figures mentioned are eye watering and surely it can be only a matter of months before the football bubble will well and truly burst ? Surely clubs carrying this much debt need to be regulated, much like the financial sector SHOULD have been a long long time ago.

    Am I right in saying if they were normal businesses they would have gone bust a long before they wracked up this much debt ?

    The real world and the world most big clubs inhabit seems to get further and further apart.

  • Comment number 55.

    People seem to discount the FA Cup income, I do not understand this! Surely if they went all the way this would generate several million, this is not to be ignored or seen as insignificant. Clubs with this scale of debt need income from all sides so this is a fairly important loss.

    Will they buy in January? Probably not, usually the top 4 don't go mad and prefer to spend in the summer.

    Do not forget the CL either, it is by no means certain that we will progress to the final in this, yet another possible income loss.

    Restructuring debt is standard, especially at this level. Whether they will do this in a manner giving long term benefit is another question. The club does not seem to be run by financial geniuses, then again how many are?

  • Comment number 56.

    44. At 3:29pm on 05 Jan 2010, deshnoodle wrote:

    "no, bankers bonus have been paid from profits. maybe not always 'good' profits, but profits nonetheless. if all the banks had been visibly losing money for years and years then we could question what they pay their people - but that's not been the case."

    ....but over the course of time banks have actually been loosing money, it's just that they made some over 10 years, and then lost a lot more than they made in less than a year. As the bankers bonuses are calculated on expected returns - then this is very similar to the football situation, exepct the banks losses are safely in the future and the football clubs are ongoing.

  • Comment number 57.

    42# Gooner Ron

    Wenger’s net spend on players as at the last accounting period is virtually zero (not positive) compared to the other big four clubs of averaging around £20m per season, which, begrudgingly is to his credit. I’ll get the same pop in that he hasn’t won a thing for five years which is against mine.

    When reading the accounts of Arsenal people need to bear in mind they are heavily influenced by their property activity.

    It is a fact that their debt is around 100% of their annual income which will be difficult to continue to finance. The results were of course for last year. Since then costs, mainly due to player salaries are anticipated to have risen by 12%. Match day tickets and season tickets are already 40% and 24% more than their top 4 competitors indicating there is probably little room for match day sales revenue growth.

    Given the brand name of Man U, I would say their financial position is no weaker than at least two of their three main competitors.

  • Comment number 58.

    #49 PragueImp

    I am a Chelsea fan and generally, the financial news coming out of Chelsea is good.

    The only point I would make though is that turnover dipped slightly last year. This dip may be repeated (and for other clubs as well) if ticket sales and merchandise drop, though for Chelsea I don't see this as an immediate issue.

  • Comment number 59.

    As has been mentioned players wages are a significant element of a clubs financial position. A problem with the pay players get is that the effect of wining and losing is at best indirect and in many cases not there. In for example golf and tennis those that win get more money and those that lose get less. I accept that in the case of these two sports such a model is easier to apply given it applies at an individual level but unless the current position of players being paid almost irrespective of performance (in the short term)can't be corrected then I don't see any hope for the overall finances of many teams. This certainly isn't going to be corrected by the "market"; if the Americans those disciples of unbridled capitalism feel the need to cap salaries and have draft systems to prevent any club getting all the best players then there's no reason to think it will work here.

  • Comment number 60.

    Too many clubs owned by foreigners? Too few British players in the Premiership? The TV money will drift away as the Internet viewing becomes more and more rampant on P2P sites. It won't be long now; if not Pompey, West Ham, Man Utd or Liverpool then someone else will crash and burn. Once the dust settles we can then get back to the game, clubs wanting to win the FA Cup, players paid sustainable wages, bring it on.

  • Comment number 61.

    writingsonthewall... you analogy is based on hindsight and the situation we're in immediately after an unprecedented economical 'event'. and it still doesn't really work - banks lost money because they had bad debt, not because of their wage bills (albiet that the wage bills were inflated given the bad debt). it's really not the same as football where clubs consistently, and knowingly, pay out more than they earn. i'm not sure why you're so keen to draw unecessary parallels when the underlying issues in bankers pay and footballers pay are fundamentally different, and any attempts to deal with those issues would have to be equally different.

  • Comment number 62.

    37. At 2:52pm on 05 Jan 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:

    I agree, its strange.

    My numbers are from Forbes. So whilst I find them a bit odd - as pointed out, Arsenal's 107% debt?? - I do trust the numbers provided.

    Here's a full table for your viewing, and you can look at the references for the original values if you want.

  • Comment number 63.

    Maybe this why David Moyes is touted by some as being the next Man Utd manager - he is used to managing a team on a budget!

    More seriously, the position for Scottish football clubs is also looking bleak. Look at the mess Rangers are in off the park. Historically, a large number of Scottish league clubs were banked by HBoS which seemed to take a fairly benign approach to football clubs and their overdrafts. Anecdotally, I understand that Lloyds Banking group are taking a much stricter line the footbal clubs (which, given its part state ownership, is quite correct) and I predict this will lead to a number of Scottish clubds going to the wall over the next 12 moinths or so.

  • Comment number 64.

    I recently suggested that Football may be about to shoot itself in the foot on my own blog. The 'top 4' possibly becoming a 'top 7' all utilising the same business model (requiring on the pitch success) only leading to one outcome.

  • Comment number 65.

    46. At 3:34pm on 05 Jan 2010, poorold pensioner wrote:
    How do we overcome bad behaviour on the pitch by overpaid players. How do we get money back in to the lower league and non professional clubs.

    The answer is to fine Premier laegue players £25K when they pick up a yellow card and £50K for a red card. The Championship clubs could have lower fines The fines levied could be split between the clubs throughout the football league and other lower level football organisations.

    Either it would change behaviour, or it would benefit others to whom football is a true sport rather than the cheat at all opportunities game that we se so often at the top level.

    Food for thought!
    Horrible suggestion. No players will want to play in England then!

  • Comment number 66.

    Don't forget that UEFA could have a big say in the fate of a lot of clubs over here. They are trying to say that if you have a debt that is over a certain amount of income then you can't play in the Champions League.

  • Comment number 67.

    "58. At 4:09pm on 05 Jan 2010, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    #49 PragueImp

    I am a Chelsea fan and generally, the financial news coming out of Chelsea is good."

    MrBlueBurns - what are you on about? Chelsea made an operating loss of 66 million for 2008. The only good financial news for your mob is Abramovich. Last I heard you are hoping to break even this year and if turnover is down so must the chances of hitting that target be down.

  • Comment number 68.

    #20 Chargekicker offers an illuminating lesson on how Man Utd can get out of the mess they're in.

    They can follow the "wisely-financed" Leeds Utd plan: plunge the club into administration, offer to buy the club from the administrators with creditors receiving 1% of their money, up that to 8% to offset a challenge from other potential purchasers, make the usual threat of legal action then walk away with the club now debt-free.

    By contrast, Luton Town's owners were punished for the financial irregularities of the PREVIOUS owners, the current owners having informed the FA of these irregularities voluntarily.

  • Comment number 69.

    65. At 5:02pm on 05 Jan 2010, boobookitty wrote:

    Not to mention players like Fellaini would never get any money

  • Comment number 70.

    #66 Nick_Hove_Actually

    I wish UEFA would deal with the issue of the distribution of it's income, which is within it's control, rather than worrying about how the recipients of this income spend it, which is not within it's control.

  • Comment number 71.

    #67 United Dreamer

    The 'last you heard' is out of date. See this

    Chelsea now have no debt and losses are falling. If they go a year without sacking a manager (I hope) then losses will reduce further.


  • Comment number 72.

    As long as their are fields, and goalposts. As long as we can find XI energetic young players, a terrace to sit (or stand) on. As long as their is passion in our local teams, so that we can sing and sway, and mock our opponents and their followers. As long as we can blow a breath into a ball, drop two coats in the playground, there will be football. Everything else is ego.

  • Comment number 73.

    For those Manchester United fans worried about Arsenal's financial position please read the following document:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    And don't forget there are two "true" billionaire shareholders sitting in the wings if need be.

  • Comment number 74.

    As a long term United fan I think this is a result of the decision to change to a PLC many years ago. I think the real financial problems are not only to do with servicing debt but also the huge fall off this season particularly from match day income. The club is having huge difficulties filling corporate boxes this year and many corporate tickets were not renewed. Add this to the reduction in match day income through sales of merchandise etc and you're looking at huge income reduction which hasn't been seen in the accounts yet. It gives me no pleasure in saying it but I think the troubles are only just beginning.
    The end result I believe will be a sell off by the Glazers to some rich arabs if there are any left. FC United anyone?

  • Comment number 75.

    This is not just a problem for football, but a big problem for business in general. Leverage buyouts, using the projected and assessed assets of a business, based on questionable criteria to fund takeovers, loading profitable companies with debt, and allowing financial scam artists to make fortunes, before a few go to jail.
    These guys are crooks, even though they claim to be billionaires, they do not make anything, its a numbers game.. Bernie Madoff is their guru.

  • Comment number 76.

    Matt Durbin @ 12:17 wrote:

    "Or they could simply pay players less money. The high wages are the root cause of the problem"

    The problem is that many of the wage deals are agreed after tax. With the 50% tax rate coming in, it will in fact mean a bigger wage bill.

  • Comment number 77.

    Not a problem to Fergie - he'll use the Leeds result as an excuse put pressure on some of those not performing especially when some of the individual players' transfer fees are higher than the value of the entire Leeds Utd team? Should see a different performance next time out!

    At least the football agents may now come under pressure - These middle-men/ bankers inflate every price they come into contact with and the January tranfer window may allow clubs to introduce suitable clauses into future employment contracts restricting agent's fees/influence?

  • Comment number 78.

    International brand name? Let's export them to China. The fans too.

  • Comment number 79.

    To boobookitty and Henry.

    Presumably if they can't play a clean game occasionally maybe we should let them go elsewhere.

  • Comment number 80.

    When Platini tries to operate within his remit, i.e. advising clubs that having massive debt is not good for the game in the long run, he is accused of picking on Little England, when in fact he is trying to get the clubs to act sensibly.

    It is no good winning the Champions League 1 year only to be struggling to pay your way within a few seasons. We are told football has never been bigger but the only thing bigger is the debt.

    Football isnt a business, if you make £80 million as United do they should be putting that into either buying better players or reducing costs for fans not spending £70 million of it on iterest payments.

    It is madness

  • Comment number 81.

    Even if Man Utd do get into serious financial trouble, they have the reputation, global following and vast earning potential to attract a hugely rich investor to bail them out and keep them in the upper echelons of the Premier League for generations to come.

    No matter how much we want it to happen, there is no getting rid of Man Utd.

  • Comment number 82.

    Many of these takeovers are structured by borrowing against a club's future income stream. Essentially, the buyers purchase a club using the club's own money. That has always seemed wrong to me.

    One significant factor is that the tax system favours debt - interest expense is tax-deductible, whereas dividends are not. This is unfair, and may change, removing some (or perhaps all) interest tax cover. That could be disastrous for some of the debt-ridden clubs discussed here.

    Just as bad, takeovers are often predicated on cash flow projections which assume continuous success. This is foolhardy, since no club is guaranteed to succeed every single year.

    Man Utd are an example. They are, obviously, still a very good side, but they are not invincible. Not even Ferguson can guarantee continuous success - every team needs to rebuild sometimes.

    If, say, Utd finish third in the EPL this year, and win nothing, well, I think their supporters could live with that. It's hardly the end of the world. But could their bankers live with it? I'm not so sure.

    I think that a big spending spree from Utd is unlikely, for financial reasons, and I also doubt if much of the £80m from the sale of Ronaldo is available for transfer purchases. Clubs like Man Utd and Liverpool are often described as "rich", but the truth is that they are heavily indebted.

    The whole football situation is inherently unstable.

  • Comment number 83.

    Very interesting and thank you Robert for this. I've long found the football industry to be economically very dubious, not that I'm an expert on economics but I'm sure the nature of businesses run exclusively on debt is not sustainable, it relies heavily on investment from the tv industry (Setanta anyone), numpties paying ridiculous prices to support their team by buying tickets and consumer products and there's seems a suspicious lack of regulation as to whom is providing the investment in these takeovers.

  • Comment number 84.

    There is a reason why so many Americans have bought into Premier League ownership - many of them NFL owners! The future of football is a pan-european league with an NFL style ownership. Instead of sharing the spoils of a single European country's tv revenues among 20 clubs, they can share the entire European league rights among 32 big name teams. The teams that make it into this exclusive club will have no problem servicing their debts. The ones who don't can become football clubs again where the raison d'etre is simply for people to play a game.

  • Comment number 85.

    I hope Spurs have secured the Berbatov fee (just in case you never know eh)

  • Comment number 86.

    Writings on the Wall wrote:

    "4. At 12:17pm on 05 Jan 2010, Matt Durbin wrote:

    "Or they could simply pay players less money. The high wages are the root cause of the problem"
    ....but the market sets those wages - are you saying the market is wrong?"

    Yes I am. It's called 'market failure'.

    IMO football is not a normal business, it's half way to Ponzi scheme. Sooner or later, the 'greater fools' who come along to bailout clubs (Abramovich at Chelsea, Man City's sheikhs to name but two) will stop coming

    Michel Platini recognises this with his proposal to stop those clubs who spend beyond their means competing in the Champions League. Fair dues to him.

    Arsenal also are big spenders -it;s just theirs goes in wages, not transfer fees.

  • Comment number 87.


    Keep your nose out of footy mate will you. You had a good go at ruining the economy , please don't spoil our national game to.

    Thanks :)

  • Comment number 88.

    Re #57 and few others re Arsenal Debt situation

    1. The stadium related debt is 242 m not 416 m as variously quoted in these comments. For clarification, please see Robert Peston's blog on Arsenal debt in July

    2. Pre tax profit of 62.7m in 2009, which does not include 40m from the sales of players in August 2009.• Profit after tax of £35.2 million (2008 - £25.7 million) was a record for the Group.

    3. Most importantly, someone earlier pointed out Highbury redevelopment and flats not selling, please see exact wording from financial results

    The completion of sale of 208 (2007 – Nil) private apartments at Highbury Square contributed £88.0 million of revenue (2008 - £15.2 million) and boosted the operating profit from property activities to £7.8 million (2008 – Nil).
    • Since the end of the financial year there have been a number of further positive developments in relation to the Group’s Highbury Square project:
    • Of the 655 private apartments in the development, sales have now completed on 445 units with a cumulative sales revenue value of £172.4 million.
    • The balance on the bank loan used to fund the project has been substantially reduced to £47 million and agreement has been reached to refinance the loan and extend its term to December 2010.

    These are avaialble at

    In summary, the property business is independent of footballing i.e Emirates turnover. the outstandind debt for property redevelopment is only 47 million. Despite slow property market as you pointed out, 445/655 flats are already sold bringing 172 million of revenues. If that trends continues, remaining 210 flats would bring about 90m. Even, in the worst case scenario of breaking even, halft of that would be enough to pay oustanding loan of 47 million.

    Now let's talk about 262 million of stadium loan. As it is widely known, this loan is long term, fixed rate bonds over 25 years and not PIKs, so more payment Arsenal will make, the eventual interest and payments will go down. The turn over I quoted above was despite us not winning any trophies and least commercial activities unlike United or Chelsea.

    I have nothing against united, liverpool and other's financial health, I just to reinfoce the point that Arsenal's financial situation is, stable, to say the least due to prudent transfer policy, and long term loan, just like mortgage over 25 years. No one can guarantee the future of sky money or EPL finances, however, The Arsenal are likely to generate enough funds to remain solvent

  • Comment number 89.

    This was not a bad blog. It is very nteresting to see the panic levels of many fans comments on here also. The big thing for me is whether clubs will see this as a sign to tighten their belts or will they run into a brick wall just as Portsmouth have done of late.

  • Comment number 90.

    All I'm quoting, sir, is what Forbes' magazine lists on your clubs financial situation.

  • Comment number 91.

    Can people please stop mentioning Platini as some sort of footballing Keynes? He is a politician, aiming to head FIFA when Blatter finally moves into his nursing home.

    Platini has no problem with clubs borrowing from banks, as long as they're 'sustainable'. Please cf Spanish banks' write-offs of Real Madrid's debt over the years, as Real's members (the owners) have threatened to bank elsewhere.

    He has no problem with clubs being bankrolled by governments, local and national (again Real, whose training ground was bought by the city for £300mill and leased back for a nominal fee - or Paris St-Germain, who receive substantial government subsidies despite poor performance. Ring any bells?).

    Please don't misunderstand me: I don't disagree with some of his proposals. I just want to make the point that he has no real interest in the economic, social or equality aspects of the game. These things merely inform his views. His primary concern is to build his power base using the general distrust and envy of the English game, with its success, glamour and ability to attract wealthy (if unsuitable) owners, as his leverage.

  • Comment number 92.

    Like F1, then?

    Sorry, I don't know much about footie.

    Or F1, for that matter.

  • Comment number 93.

    They should be able to after their large investment in LEEDS UTD,at appreciable odds !

  • Comment number 94.

    Re #90

    Dear Sir Henry,

    Please have a look at the link from Forbes website

    According to Forbes, Arsenal's debt/value ratio (including stadium debt) is 43%. I am not sure which figures you are quoting.

  • Comment number 95.

    Have you noticed that commercial rents in the most desireable part of the capital, are now forecast to go up in value & significantly, too.

    Those bankers must be being making fortunes out of football clubs & other businesses, not to mention their fans, employees & the rest of the peasants.

    Ah, well.

    Back to plebland.

    How much is it to go to a match these days, say on a family day ie Saturday?

    I wonder what the average budget of the average footie fan is, to enable them to follow their club?

  • Comment number 96.

    94. At 8:36pm on 05 Jan 2010, wittyzed wrote:

    Truly phenomenal work, my squire.

    Your statement is entirely true.

    Except that the analysis is carried out in 2008.

    From the very same reference - except for 2009- available here

    Their position has been reassessed to 107%.

    Thanks for trying though! Don't let it discourag you :)

  • Comment number 97.

    Thanks Sir Henry,

    I am at loss to understand the fact that despite retaining #3 ranking, increased revnues, increased profit, decreased debt from property side of the business (please see my post #88 above) debt/value ratio has increased from 43% to 107%. Something is not right there esp if debt is reduced from property side to only 47 million and no new loans taken

  • Comment number 98.


    If you believe Forbes, Arsenal have suddenly taken on $600m worth of the debt in the last 12 months. I think we should be told what they spent it on, don't you?

    Hasn't anybody told you that you shouldn't believe everything you read in the papers?

  • Comment number 99.

    That's a point.


  • Comment number 100.

    Peston is the supposed 'financial expert' who never forecast any problem with the system and became a more than predictable commentator on the problem.

    His opinion on any football finances or indeed any finacial situation is not worth having


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