And what has the Glazer clan done for Man United?
WHEN stories of Manchester United’s supposed interest in the unemployed for mer England defender Sol Campbell surfaced a month ago, manager Alex Ferguson decided it was time to make a point.
After instructing in-house journalists to ask him about the issue, the Scot said: “It’s been suggested we were moving for Sol Campbell, that we don’t have any money and that we wanted to take somebody cheap. That’s all wrong. The money is there, if I want to buy someone. That’s a fact.”
Ferguson had grown tired of suggestions that United were being crippled by the debt bestowed upon them by their American owners, the Glaz- ers. It was time to add a voice of authority to the debate. The problem is, though, that many United followers no longer believe him.
With just £20million of the £80m reaped by the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo so far reinvested in his team and Ferguson showing no signs of spending any more, there are increasing fears that the Glazer regime is – for the first time – severely impacting on the budget.
Recent revelations that the Glazers are trying once again to reorganise their enormous £700m debt have certainly set alarm bells ringing.
So has the series of small cuts behind the scenes at Old Trafford – redundancies have recently been made in the accounts department while some staff are no longer entitled to free lunches at the training ground or Old Trafford.
United admit that cuts have been made at the club but argue that they are merely behaving in line with the way any large company would in an attempt to offset the effects of a worldwide recession.
The club also claim that the transfer budget for Ferguson is separate to that used to cover day-today running costs and point to the fact that a £30m cash offer was made to Lyon for the striker Karim Benzema in August as evidence that Ferguson does have cash at his disposal.
That, however, was August. This is now. And it is beyond doubt that the Glazers’ financial grip of affairs at the club they bought in 2005 is becoming ever more precarious.
Having taken on debts of £598m to take the club into private hands, the Glazers have subsequently seen that figure rise to £699. In the financial year ending June 2008 – United’s last published accounts – as much as £60m was paid in interest alone. That’s £165,000 a day.
The proposed debt re-arrangment would alleviate the immediate pressure of continuing to service their debt at high interest levels but would in all likelihood only add to the overall debt in the long term.
At United, the mood remains relatively sanguine. With Chelsea and Manchester City learning in recent times that their billionaire owners have wiped out the debt owed to them, United remain sceptical about their rivals’ long-term financial outlook. How, they reason, do those clubs continue to pay their enormous wage bill if Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich or Sheik Mansour at Manchester City choose to sell up?
Nevertheless, thousands of United followers remain deeply resentful and suspicious of their own owners. To them, they are not the Glazer brothers but the Brothers Grimm. – Daily Mail