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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Manchester Utd losing it off the pitch

Manchester United are losing 160,000 pounds a day!
Manchester United will probably win probable second successive Premier League title and will take part in a Champions League final, but the club's accounts show a significantly bleaker picture of the club's finances.

Under the ownership of the Florida-based Glazer family, all the borrowings have been loaded onto ManYoo PLC and total loans now stand at a massive £666m by far the highest of any English football club, ever.

The total owed to all creditors, including the banks, was up to £764m and includes £56m that United owe to other clubs in transfer fee instalments on players Sir Alex Ferguson has signed.

When the United headline results were announced back in January, it was said that it produced record income of £210m and operating profits of £75m. But the full accounts show, that even though United made a further £11m profit from buying and selling players, the interest and other accounting provisions pushed United into recording an overall loss of £58m for the year!

The total interest payable by the club on its borrowings was £81m, although only £42m was actually paid. The rest is allowed to roll up until the whole amount has to be repaid in 2016, or, alternatively, until the Glazers can refinance it.

A total of £152m is currently owed to hedge funds, at a staggering 14.25% interest a year - £22m of that from 2007-08 alone. Last year the Glazers tried to refinance but were unable to strike a deal with financial institutions, and a spokesman acknowledged that the credit crunch is making it more difficult now.

Before the Glazer family's 2005 takeover, United prided itself on being the only Premier League club regularly to make a significant profit, to have cash in the bank and, unlike all the others, no debts.

The accounts also reveal that by far the highest proportion of income, £92.5m, is still generated on home match days, and although the club has announced more modest ticket price rises for next season than for the previous two, supporters groups continue to protest that they are paying the debts of a takeover they opposed.

"It is outrageous that supporters are paying the huge interest on these borrowings, which are worrying for the club's future," said Sean Bones of the Manchester United Supporters Trust. "Our money is pouring out to pay the Glazers, while they have not put a penny into the club."

A spokesman for the Glazer family pointed to the club's success on the field, and in generating income off it, as evidence of the family's competent management. "The family continue to run United as a business," he said. "Their model is to encourage success on the pitch by backing Sir Alex Ferguson, and to grow revenues off it. The interest payments are more than covered by the cash generated."

This amount of debt is incredible, the numbers being bandied about are like telephone numbers, and when you consider that Arsenal's stadium cost £360m to purchase all the land and construct then the total debt of £764m at United is obviously not backed by physical assets.

This could all end in tears if the TV money stops coming in ...

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