And what has the Glazer clan done for Man United?

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL -

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

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