The Glazers Have Done a Fine Job of Managing Manchester United


Jesse Chula is not alone in thinking that the Glazers are a blight on Manchester United’s proud history.  It is almost conventional wisdom that the Glazers represent an uncomfortable trend – wealthy foreign interlopers with more money than passion buying English clubs and, through a combination of debt and unfamiliarity with the culture of English football, running those teams into the ground.  While there are certainly instances of that occurring (i.e. Portsmouth), the Glazers’ experience with Manchester United represents just the opposite – a prudent management of the financial operations combined with a hands-off approach to the football operations that has yielded fantastic success.

First, the football operations.  If there is one instance of the Glazers mandating, hinting, suggesting, prodding or encouraging Alex Ferguson in any football decision, it has completely escaped the attention of the press.  Ferguson seems to have as free a hand as any manager in football, and he has played that hand to fabulous success since the Glazers have taken over.  In the four  years since the Glazers have been full owners of Manchester United, they have won the Premiership three times, the Champions League once, appeared in another Champions League finals along with a FA Cup final and won a League Cup final.

Moreover, Ferguson has had money to spend to improve his team over that period, and has spent it freely.  Among his acquisitions since the Glazers have taken over are:

  • Dimitar Berbatov – £30.75 million
  • Michael Carrick – £18.6 million
  • Owen Hargreaves – £17 million
  • Ji-Sung Park – £4 million
  • Nemanja Vidic – £7 million
  • Patrice Evra – £5.5 million

The only major sale of a significant player during the Glazer period is Christiano Ronaldo, and not even the most ardent Glazer haters believe that sale was engineered by anybody but Ronaldo himself.

Moreover, to the extent that the Glazers have talked about the success on the field, it was only to credit Alex Ferguson and the rest of the team for achieving it.  They have not in any way tried to reflect the glory for this stupendous run of success upon themselves. 

While ManU may be having an “off” year (they currently sit second in the table after a crippling string of injuries), it is clear that Ferguson is in a modest rebuilding mode after the departure of Ronaldo and is using this year to give many of his younger players some valuable experience, much as he did during the two years when Chelsea was in ascendancy.  It is really hard to make the case that from a footballing perspective, the team is in some sort of permanent slide.

From a financing perspective, I also think the Glazers have managed their affairs very well.  For the Glazers, owning this storied team is a long-term play, and they have made a number of moves to further that investment.  Their new shirt sponsorship (£80 million over four years with Aon) begins next year and is the largest in football history.  They have managed to secure that kind of deal because they, more than any other team in world football, have done a splendid job marketing the brand in Asia and America.  They have a world-wide following that now eclipses Real Madrid and Barcelona.

There is no doubt that the Glazers financed their takeover of the team with a lot of debt.  Yet, despite the tsunami that battered the debt market over the past 18 months, the Glazer have emerged from that tumult fully intact.  I am sure they would have liked to have refinanced their debt a year or two ago, but the market constraints prevented them from doing that.  Instead, just this week, the Glazers announced that they are working with financial giant Kohlberg Kravis and Roberts to fashion a £500 million bond issue to replace their current debt structure with long-term, lower interest bonds sold to institutional investors.  For a team to be able to refinance themselves with such a conservative investment vehicle as a corporate bond is a testament to the Glazers wise financial stewardship of the entire operation.  The long-term nature of these bonds should relieve the Glazers of any short-term liquidity issues and allow Ferguson to plan healthy transfer budgets for many years to come.

The Glazers have confounded every expectation since they have taken over the club.  They have let the football operation be run with a free hand to enormous success, and have quietly gone about the hard work of adding value and security to the balance sheet.  In almost every way, they are the ideal owners.  They may not sit in the stands wearing the shirt and drinking a pint, but I doubt many Newcastle fans would now say that is the path to success.  Instead, that have given the supporters much to celebrate, and kept the team on a sound financial footing to ensure that there will be more celebrations to come.

76 thoughts on “The Glazers Have Done a Fine Job of Managing Manchester United”

  1. The club is paying £47,000 an hour in interest because the Glazers bought the club on credit card. You are a disgrace for writing this article

      1. Richard & JP. Love the maths.

        £47,000 x 24hrs x 365days is £412m a year.

        What’s your postal addy? I’ll send you a brand new calculator.

  2. How much did the Glazers pay to to write this drivel?

    The sooner we get these greedy parasites away from Manchester forever the better, make sure they take you back with them when they do fly out ;o)

  3. Are you for real? £260m in interest payments since 2005?… £24m in personal loans from Manchester United Coffers since 2005?… The Glazers have burdoned our club with that much debt its sickening… and can only assume that you are a City fan writing this type of article.


  4. To all the ManU fans so sickened by the Glasers: would you rather have Statler and Waldorf of Liverpool? Count yourself fortunate…

      1. They weren’t saying it had to be one or the other. CA_backpacker was just giving us the old saying- “there’s always someone who’s got it worse than you.” Liverpool have been effected even worse than United when it comes to their owners.

  5. I am not a City fan, and while I would love the Glazers to send me a nice fat check for writing this article, I am not going to hold my breath. I am a fan of a team that has not nearly been as successful as ManU in the past four years, but that does not help narrow it because every other team in the world has not been as successful as ManU over the past four years. As for the interest figures, if the Glazers were actually paying £47,000 per hour since they bought the team, that would mean that they have paid about £1.85 billion in interest, which would put their annual interest rate at about 60%. Unless they borrowed the money from Tony Soprano, I doubt that is the case. I would put the true figure at about 15% of that amount. In any event, the refinancing of that debt over the coming weeks should reduce that number even further. Other than calling me a disgrace, I would love to know how the Glazer’s ownership has been a determent to ManU. Outside of those teams in England like Chelsea and Man City, which are financed like the billionaire’s playthings they have become, I doubt there is any team that combines football success and prudent management like ManU.

    1. I’m a blue mate and I can clearly see that doubling ticket prices and hardly spending a penny in the transfer market (the ins and outs are more or less balanced) as well as the interest payments going up hugely every year (making the Club a lot dearer for any prospective buyers) is not only detrimental to the Club but to the fans as well. Most Utd fans I know do not think this currant team is good enough to win anything. I feel very sorry for SAF as I feel he is not being backed with the funds he needs by the Glazier’s especially as they have taken £20m in personal loans for themselves, this is a shame as he is one of the greatest Managers to ever grace the EPL if not the best, and with the funds would easily keep them in the top teams of the Country for years to come. If SAF leaves I think Utd will struggle who ever they get.

    2. Prudent management? Are you for real? How have the Glazers brought anything decent to our club? They’ve purchased our club on hock and lumbered the club and its supporterws with the debt while they take a nice fat dividend. The success we’ve experienced is based on the majority of the team that SAF had built before the takeover. A team as successful as United over the last four years? How about the last two decades? Are you going to thank the Glazers for that as well? Idiot!!

  6. to be fair to the writer, if it wasn’t for the debt then compared to some clubs and their owners/presidents forcing decision/prematurely firing their managers then we’ve done quite well.
    of course after the massive increase utd finance stories over the last few yrs (and we all know how overdramatic papers can be – more doom and gloom then there actually is sells more copies) no one is going to release that now or until the debt has gone. There’s no overnight solution and even if the glazers go it doesn’t necessary mean that all current and future possibilities of debt goes with them!

  7. You really are just an NPD WUM and quite sad m8. They haven’t actually managed anything remotely connected with Utd’s success – Fergie has! Glazers are hands off parasites. What is your team then? City? Stuttgart VFB?…oldschool my armpit… Gehirnamputiert would be more appropriate as your surname ;o)

  8. All of big business purchases are done by borrowing. What sense would it make to pay cash out of your own pocket for something if you can get a loan for it and use some of the profits you make to pay it back? This is not to say that LARGE amounts of debt can’t come back to haunt you (Tom Hicks) but I think it’s a little naive to think that these guys at the top are in over their heads. They know EXACTLY what they’re doing (for better of worse to the fans.) To us, it’s actual money in our hands– to them it’s all numbers on a screen.

    1. Of course big business is always “financed”… but the trend at ManUtd is going downhill. This article was obviously written by a Glazer relative. They spent over 82 million on new players since the Glazer’s arrival (plus Anderson and Nani) but have sold Ronaldo (80 million) therefore they have spent pennies over 4 years. The Glazers don’t care, it’s just finance money. It’s not coming out of their pockets. The latest comments by Fergie suggest he will be spending no more (citing no bargains in the market today). It is a fact of life that the “market” dictates the price of everything. If they want 50 or 70 million for Ribery, then that’s the price!!!! It is not inflated. It is REAL. Does he expect to pay $7 million for Ribery or Silva???? Fergie’s excuses are wearing very very very thin. Nobody would argue that a Silva or Ribery or Benzema in the ranks at Man Utd would lift the team no end…. but Fergie won’t (or can’t) spend any money.

    2. Rubbish most are because their reaching not over reaching but reaching do u think Gates would pay interest on a little 1.2B buy like Man U

    1. Evan, it’s one person’s opinion, so don’t get discouraged based on one post. Instead, debate it in the comments and let us why you feel so strongly against his opinion.

      The Gaffer

      1. Okay, I just found this opinion ludicrous on a site for fans. On a site dedicated to the viewpoints of billionaire club owners, perhaps.

        If Eric thinks that the Glazers have been prudent managers, I’m glad he’s not my accountant.

    2. “Sorry Gaffer, but I’ve lost a lot of respect for EPL Talk.”

      What, because it allows its authors freedom of speech? o…m…g

  9. I’m not saying I’m chuffed about the Glazers ownership, however, if there’s a buyer there must be a seller. If the Glazer’s are living off the back of us United supporters, what about the profit made by two very wealthy Irishmen who sold their shares to them. If United owned their TV rights outright as Real Madrid we would be sitting on a mint. As it is the Premier League sells the rights and we see only a fraction of our worth. I assure you the rights aren’t worth over a billion £’s because of Burnley.

  10. Yes, you’re right, they have done as good as expected. Compared to the clowns that run Liverpool, Newcastle, and Portsmouth – Yes They’ve stayed out of football matters and have given Sir Alex as much money as they can possibly give. Great.

    But hold off on the award ceremony just yet. Saying the Glazers have done well is like saying that the geniuses that run the Treasury/Exchequer did well handling the economic meltdown considering they helped caused it.

    The Glazers bought a previously well run, virtually debt free club and leveraged it up to its eyeballs with its own assets – good for them not the club. Now the club is one 5th place finish away from disaster. In 2005, they had no money to give Sir Alex and probably cost them the league to Chelsea. Yes, they have made the best of a potentially disastrous situation but don’t give them owners of the year just yet.

  11. Also, Peter Kenyon et al should get the credit for Manchester’s global branding, something they perfected in the 90’s, long before the Glazers knew what a “soccer” ball was.

  12. United fans are nothing but a bunch of spoiled rotten children. 3 EPL titles and 1 CL title under the Glazers and you still find room to complain. Get over yourselves.

  13. I’d just like to say that I love that EPL Talk are not afraid to offer more than one take on any current affair. While I tire of the whinging articles, these are great for stirring up debate.

    As a United fan, I’m very worried about the amount of debt and the best case scenario does look to be a buy-out.

    However, know this, the history looks won’t show levels of debt, they’ll show who won the league 3 years in a row (for the second time), who won the Champions league, and who dominated English football for going on 20 years.

    United fans should worry about the future, but know that we may never have it this good, so enjoy it while we can. And if it does go belly up, and the ABU fans show their glee, just turn around and say “18 times and that’s a FACT”.

  14. The Glazer’s business model is identical to Wall Street’s financial weapons of mass destruction responsible for the current global economic meltdown. That is, purchasing debt-leveraged assets and stripping them of value in order to service the debt. It is drunken capitalism with no relationship to reality sure to hasten SAF’s exit. With most of the current team already in place prior to the Glazer family’s purchase, the debt payments mean ManU will be unable to replace the players it will lose or purchase expensive players in the future. Unlike ManCity and Chelsea, who have sugar daddy owners plowing their own money into the club, the Glazer family are robber barons gradually stripping ManU of its assets. Even with the bond issuance, itself no sure thing given the current global economy, the club will remain under tremendous debt burden for the foreseeable future. Banks will hardly yield their position of strength and issue bonds at disadvantageous terms. Making matters worse for the club, ManU’s once vaunted academy has not replicated their golden generation of Giggs, Scholes, Beckham, the Neville brothers, etc. For all his achievements, it’s hard to imagine that SAF, at his age, will participate in a run of team mediocrity and watch his legacy destroyed in his final years at the club under the present ownership.

    As a sporting business, this season’s results and standing in the table clearly indicate ManU is a club in decline with no upturn in sight. A sports franchise belongs to the fans as much as to its owners. To the Glazer family ManU isn’t a public trust but a simply a business like any other. Indeed, in the USA the Glazer family has a sorry history of ownership. In the NFL, they fired one of the league’s most respected coaches, Tony Dungee and replaced him with Jon Gruden, who won the Super Bowl the following year with Dungee’s players. Two years later, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, owned by the Glazers, fired Gruden, also well respected, and replaced him with a succession of cheap, unsuccessful coaches, and the team has wallowed near the bottom of the table for the past five years. This pattern of replacing successful coaches with bargain basement underwhelming mediocrities is likely to be repeated once SAF retires or is forced out. After all, to the Glazers’ it not personal; it’s all business. Apparently they fail to grasp that, to the fans, football isn’t business; it’s personal. And because it’s business, and not personal, eventually the Glazers will sell ManU, obviously at a profit, to another owner who could burden the club anew with more leveraged debt.

    Going forward, the future is bleak, not just for ManU. If Platini and UEFA prevail, insolvent clubs will face significant restrictions, including loss of CL participation for what Arsene Wenger has called ‘half cheating’ and ‘financial doping.’ For the health and good of the game, clubs will have to balance their books and wealthy teams will be forced to compete on a level playing field, no longer reliant on sugar daddys or protected from robber baron owners. A brave new world which, at the moment, only the business models of Arsenal, Bayern Munich, and Barca, and few others are presently able to face and be able to prosper in the future.

    1. I agree that there are troubling aspects to the Glazer’s purchase of ManU. In general, I find it distatsteful when, as the result of a sale, the club (in any sport),is saddled with large amounts of debt, as opposed to the purchaser.

      That said, I will correct your facts about the Glazer’s history in Tampa Bay (I am, and I imagine I may take knocks for this on two levels, An NFL fan, as well as a Buccaneers fan). In 1995 the Glazers took over a Buccaneers franchise that was close to bankruptcy. Under their stewardship, they turned the team into a very profitable franchise. They spent freely in the free agent market, and in seven years, they went from perennial losers to winning the superbowl. They have had four coaches under theirs ownership. Sam Wyche (who was coach prior to their ownership, and compiled a record of 23w 41l, you can hardly call his dismissal unjustified), Tony Dungy 1996-2001(fired for his apparent inability to win in the play offs), John Gruden 2002-2008 (fired likely due to player issues), Raheem Morris 2009. Raheem Morris only won three games this year, and was given a chance to come back next year. This is hardly the hallmark of a team unwilling to commit to coaches, especially in the NFL.

      Bottom line, I agree that terms of the sale are cause for concern, as are the rising ticket prices. But nothing in their history of sports owners suggest that they are only interested in the bottom line. At the end of the day, the value of the asset is tied to it’s performance. Even if you accept that they only care about the bottom line, the bottom line is hurt by the team not performing.

    2. How wrong can u be this is ridiculous the Glazers paid what the club was worth yes with some borrowed money if they run it into the ground how are they going to sell at a profit if they have to sell & there is debt on the books it will sell at market value less debt so if it was worth 1B when they bought it if they payed cash & sell 1 year later the next owner pays 1B if it was worth 1B and the Glazers paid with 400m of borrowed money and it is still worth 1B the next owner pays 600m to the Glazers & 400m to whoever holds the 400M note ie. bank etc. the Glazers pay 1 year worth of interest on the 400M at say 5% 20m if the club made 40M that year the Glazers make 20M profit

  15. I tend to want to agree with this only because no one is talking about how the horrible signings over the years of Veron, Nani, Berbatov and Hargreaves have contributed to cash being bled from the bottom line. Where are the young players? Academy players? This is a team still built around the continuing contributions of Giggs, Scholes and Neville. Their replacements should have already unseated them. I think Liverpool have the same problem. Only Chelski and Man City can rely on an unending stream of money. If you’re in debt you need to do what you can to pay down the debt. Granted they doubled down and won 3 prem and 1 champions league title under the Glazers. I hope it was worth it. Given their desire to press that advantage with trips to the far east, it may have.

  16. Jay Smith is correct, in that the Bucs were, until the Glazers’ arrival, among the worst NFL teams. However, Tampa fans are hardly enthused over the state of the franchise since Gruden’s firing. There have been grumblings about player acquisitions and team morale. Unlike the EPL, the NFL has a salary cap as well as revenue sharing, meaning every NFL franchise gets a cut from league revenues and TV contracts, in addition to keeping their gate receipts. Given these guaranteed revenue streams, although the Glazers are flush with funds, ownership’s team spending has been downright stingy, particularly compared with the Cowboys and Dolphins. Sentiment in Tampa has it that the Glazers are cutting corners in Tampa in order to focus their resources on ManU. Regardless of their ownership merits, saddling the club, as opposed to the family, as Chelsea’s owner did, with such massive debt can’t possibly have a successful outcome and is a doomed business model incapable of sustaining itself in the long run. Moreover, the bond issue under consideration presupposes that global economic conditions will soon improve. Any future economic downturn would obviate that assumption and force the Glazers to sell ManU sooner rather than later. Which, even if almost certainly sold at a profit, will benefit the Glazers and not the club. The debt cycle will simply be perpetuated by new, hedge fund financed ownership, whose only interest, like the Glazers, will be in raising ticket prices and raiding the cash register of gate receipts, stripping its assets (already they are proposing selling off ManU’s Carrington training complex), the public trust be damned, followed by another round in ticket price increases.

    Somebody, please, haiku. Stop the madness.

  17. What a piece od shite article – thesres’s no way a team as big as UTD should be struggling with debts – why are we struggling with debts because the freaky trouser wearing leprechaun bought UTD on credit – sorry but it’s a disgrace and it is costing UTD our heritage. Glazers f**k off!!!

  18. The author of the article doesn’t really know Manchester United and is probably a glory hunter switching from Chelsea, Man Utd, Real Madrid and Barca etc whoever is the most successful.
    FACT Man Utd were a leading football brand before the Glazers come along, same with winning the trophies.
    FACT We can thank Sir Alex Ferguson for taking the manager’s job 23 years ago not the bloody Glazer’s!
    FACT The Glazer’s have saddled United with so much debt they should be put in prison, the interest rates swallow up the profits, they bought a club without having a decent amount of disposable cash just assets, a joke really should never have been allowed to happen!

    1. Its not the debt its just a difference of the GLazers & the previous owner/s the debt is manageable its like Abromovich he has so much money he doesn,t care about spending 100M every year to try and win the previous owner although not in his class didn,t want any profit they were happy to break square and invest in the team to win the Glazers want x M profit each year to pay back the purchase & having no interest in spending their time watching PL will continue to

  19. Before the acquisition, manu had won 8 EPLs and 1 Cl in 15yrs. The Glazer didnt bring success, they just haven’t ruined it (yet)
    The Glazer have acted in their own best interest, at the detriment of the club. They bought the club with about Club was bought for a total of £831m: £272m directly from Glazers, £284m from JP Morgan & co , and £275m from Hedge funds (Citadel, Och-Ziff and Perry Capital). In 2007, they refinanced the initial £556m debts into a new £667m debt of 3 parts: Loan 1=£425m, Loan 2=£90m, and a 14.25% PiK loan of £152m directly against the Glazers. As at the last financial statement, the PiK loans has ballooned to £200m, with the club barely able to service the £509.5m debt that is against its asset. The new move by the glazers is aimed to make things better for themselves but would likely worsen the position of the club. The bonds will basically transfer the identity of the creditors, increase the interest rates in exchange for a longer term, and (most importantly) allow them to siphon money to service their PiK loan. So unless United can increase their revenue by about £100, they will fall deeper into the depth, as the glazers try to recover as much as they can of their investments. With a tight purse, and SAFs retirement looming, on field success will be limited. At the current rate, in 3yrs the clubs liability will exceed its value and will have to be sold off before it is relegated on financial grounds.

  20. I can’t help but agree with Ugg here. He’s obviously got some back room knowledge about this whole Glazer financial fracas that none of us was privy to. Thanks for droppin’ the knowledge Ugg. Good lookin’ out.

  21. They’re not only a blight on ManUre, they’re a blight on humanity.

    Do a little research on how they made their money. These are not good people.

  22. “In almost every way, they are the ideal owners.” since when is 500+ million quid in debt ideal? Manchester United didn’t need the glazers. the club was debt free, had a great squad, was the most profitable club in the world, & were winning titles. Furthermore, the new stand that increased Old Trafford to over 76,000 cost over 40 million pounds, and united paid for all of it, without taking out loans.

    yes, Manchester United have continued to win trophies, but the glazers have had nothing to do with it. Revenues have increased, but again it’s only because the glazers are looking for ways to make more money to pay off the huge interest. If the glazers didn’t’ own the club, United would be able to invest that money on players, or whatever else the club needs. The glazers are a virus, all they have done is jeopardize the future of a club that I, and millions others love.

    When people argue that United fans are “spoiled” and that we just “complain”. Yes, we are lucky that the team has been so successful. However, this is the future of the club we are talking about. I do not want United to end up like leeds. To the author of this article, you’re not a Manchester United supporter, so you wouldn’t understand. next time i suggest you write about whatever club you support.

  23. its time now to think what to do rather than what was done… no one knows where we stand in terms of finance but sure fergie could use some to get a striker to partner Rooney, someone to hold midfield together (if Owen Hargreaves cant do it on his return), and someone in the defence (god knows who is leaving – Ferdinand or Vidic)… and those who say that 2nd is rationale can take a hike.. MAN U is gonna win again (remember 10 points behind Liverpool last Christmas !!)

  24. This article is fair, look at the history of man u, the glory years was 1945 to 69 (Busby years) and won european cup for first time. In1986, Fergie built a team with young players such as Giggs, Scholes, Butt, Neville brothers, Beckham, Brown, the list goes on, did not have to spend much money. During that time period, managers had more time and leniency . Fergie arrive in 86 and won premier league 11 times and euro champions league 2 times and world 1 time. The premier league was never known as the best league in the world not till the mid 90’s did some people start saying that and currently it is. Before it was always Spain (Madrid, these idiots still gloat about how many times they have won European Championship) and Italy(Milan). The game has changed ever since Abromovich purchased Chelsea. The premier league has changed greatly in the last 5 years. The landscape is different, premier league managers have no life span. A Great example Mark hughes, sad what happen to him. Teams have to win and they need results now. You do not have the luxury to wait on youth players to come up the rank as you did before. Madrid also has a lot of debt. You think they bought Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzame, in cash. You have to spend big to win. Look at Arsenal, they have not spent much in the last 5 years and only sold players, they have small transfer kitty every year. No one expects Arsenal to win title and they won’t again this year, they have no depth. Only3 teams Chelsea, Liverpool, Man U, why because they have spent every year minimum of 20 Million pounds. Sir Alex has spent freely, he has been getting the players he wants and Ronaldo left on his term. You really believe any premier league manager is going to stand up and defend the owner if they will not let him spend. GET REAL!! What pisses me of is the so called fans on this site bitching about Ferguson and the team in 2nd place, with half the season left. Also about having too much debt, if you now anything about finance, Man U is not in bad shape. If glaziers sold today they could easily get 1.5 to 1.8 Billion and that is on the low end. Again if your going to rant and rave, put facts for people to read, not your uneducated opinion.

    1. Also quit crying about ticket prices going up. If you can’t go because it cost too much, than go get a new job and try to make more money!! It is about supply and demand. If it was too expensive people would not go, but every game, even Carling Cup games are sold out.

  25. Paul, what is your point?

    Before the Glazer’s, Man United had profits to spend big and had no debt.

    Before the Glazer’s Man United had enough profits each season to compete with any team in the transfer market Real Madrid being the exception as they are government owned.

    Glazer’s took over United to milk the club every penny, there are even talks about the Glazer’s selling the Carrington training ground!

    Without the Glazer’s United would be allowed to do what they want, wouldn’t need to watch what they spend in the transfer market and certainly not be forced to sell their state of the art training ground.

  26. If you read Soccernomics, there is a whole section on how statistically, clubs that operate at a moderate loss perform better than clubs that break even. Therefore, a moderate amount of debt is a good thing for a club. While these debt figures seem pretty enormous, considering the size of Man U, they may not be that terrible. The problem with Man U is that the debt was used to buy the club, not acquire better players. Therefore, I think articles like this are misguided. Sure Man U did pretty well the last 4 years. However, Man U could have performed much better over the last 4 years if it was able to use that debt on acquiring or keeping players instead of paying off interest for acquiring the club.

    As an avid Man U hater, I’m very thankful for the Glazers burdening the club with so much useless debt.

      1. That’s what I was thinking when reading this article (the issue of a club’s success compared to their profit brought up in Soccernomics).

        Is it possible in today’s soccer landscape to run a club that is both (1) profitable and (2) successful both domestically and in Europe? My humble opinion – no. It may have been in the pre-Premiership days but not now.

        Probably Arsenal would be the closest to achieving this – but I don’t even think they are doing that well.

        Would all you Manchester United fans take the debt away if it made your club have a less of a chance to win silverware?

        1. Man Utd were doing this before the Glazer’s! Man United built itself into the most popular club in the world way before them. Man Utd with all it’s players, biggest club stadium, best training facilities in the UK all came from profits.
          Seems like you and most the other American’s who have posted on here know only Man United history from when the Glazer’s took over.

          The Premiership has attracted the highest tv revenue and worldwide audiences since the mid 90’s and for over a decade as been dubbed as the strongest league in the world.

          Quote:”Would all you Manchester United fans take the debt away if it made your club have a less of a chance to win silverware?”

          This question makes me laugh! So you don’t remember United doing the treble back in 1999, look United have been winning trophies consistently throughout the 90’s and in the noughties, this is what attracted leechers the Glazer family to Man United in the first place. Also which club made David Beckham into the global brand he is today ahem Man United because of their global presence!

          Before the Glazer’s it was profit’s profit’s profit’s and now it’s debt debt debt.

          Go back to watching your American Football(Handball) because clearly you don’t know anything about Manchester United pre- Glazer’s.

          1. I know it’s easier to insult and make assumption (like that I like American Football… or that I’m even American) instead of engaging in conversation… but try.

            I remember all that. That was then… this is now.

            I think it’ a different landscape now and 10 years ago things were very different.

            It was a theoretical question. Would you take all the debt you have now away but lose the ability to bolster the club (and thus have less of a chance at silverwear)?

          2. Gaz,
            your an idiot read my post, I wrote in January 13th. I know the history better than you mate. Better yet here it is:
            This article is fair, look at the history of man u, the glory years was 1945 to 69 (Busby years) and won european cup for first time. In1986, Fergie built a team with young players such as Giggs, Scholes, Butt, Neville brothers, Beckham, Brown, the list goes on, did not have to spend much money. During that time period, managers had more time and leniency . Fergie arrive in 86 and won premier league 11 times and euro champions league 2 times and world 1 time. The premier league was never known as the best league in the world not till the mid 90’s did some people start saying that and currently it is. Before it was always Spain (Madrid, these idiots still gloat about how many times they have won European Championship) and Italy(Milan). The game has changed ever since Abromovich purchased Chelsea. The premier league has changed greatly in the last 5 years. The landscape is different, premier league managers have no life span. A Great example Mark hughes, sad what happen to him. Teams have to win and they need results now. You do not have the luxury to wait on youth players to come up the rank as you did before. Madrid also has a lot of debt. You think they bought Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzame, in cash. You have to spend big to win. Look at Arsenal, they have not spent much in the last 5 years and only sold players, they have small transfer kitty every year. No one expects Arsenal to win title and they won’t again this year, they have no depth. Only3 teams Chelsea, Liverpool, Man U, why because they have spent every year minimum of 20 Million pounds. Sir Alex has spent freely, he has been getting the players he wants and Ronaldo left on his term. You really believe any premier league manager is going to stand up and defend the owner if they will not let him spend. GET REAL!! What pisses me of is the so called fans on this site bitching about Ferguson and the team in 2nd place, with half the season left. Also about having too much debt, if you now anything about finance, Man U is not in bad shape. If glaziers sold today they could easily get 1.5 to 1.8 Billion and that is on the low end. Again if your going to rant and rave, put facts for people to read, not your uneducated opinion.
            ***One more thing if you have 550MM pound of debt and the club is worth 1.5 Billion on the low end. That is a 36% debt ratio… If you tried to get a home loan in today’s market they would give it you!! Most people have more debt than this!!

          3. Paul (and John),

            Again with the insults instead of actually reading what I wrote.

            I don’t really disagree with much of what you said. You even mirrored some of my comments word for word. The EPL is a different landscape today than it was during the early EPL days. Young players don’t have time to come up in the ranks. Teams that want to win must spend big. I agree with all this.

            Therefore, you can only really have one or the other with the current owners; you can have less debt or further bolstering of the club.

            Is this what you disagree with?

            The only other option is one that you brought up – the owners selling the club. But then they could find themselves in the same situation again (or even worse). And I’m sure not if they are willing to sell a club that is acting as an ATM for them.

            Again, I’m not sure what you’re disagreeing with here. Can you or the previous commenter let me know? You basically used poor punctuation and formatting to write a longer version of exactly what I said (different landscape now, no young players coming up, must spend big).

            The only point of contention for me is that Ferguson has been (and will continue) to be able to buy whoever he wants. I’m not sure if that is true.

  27. Well let me say, you can’t look at debt and interest payments alone. In that respect many companies with billions in debt would look even worse than Man Utd. You have to look at the sum total of the Total net worth of the club versus it’s liabilities. As a business, this brand is worth more than a billion pounds. The debt in comparison is about 50% of this amount. As a leveraged entity, the club is not in the best of financial situations. However, if the debt instead of being converted to long term bonds is converted to common equity in the stock market then Man Utd looks like a little rich fortress. I think this is the right process of converting to long term debt, and eventually converting that into shareholder equity. Compare Man Utd’s debt to value ratio to most other clubs, and you’ll realise most people are making noise for the sake of sounding good.

  28. Well said, Uno.

    United’s poor form this year is directly attributable to the loss of Ronaldo (a move orchestrated by the player, not the club), terrible injuries on our back line, and poor performances from recent transfer market acquisitions. United fans have had it GOOD over the last few years, and we’re overreacting because now because we are a few points behind. We lost one of the best players in the world this summer- did you really believe that we’d be better for it?

    On the lack of spending: Fergie says the money is there to spend. Does he strike you as a guy who would back down from (or lie for) the ownership? The handful of top players that were available over the summer were overrated and outrageously overpriced. We STILL tried to move for one or two of them, but we were outbid and/or they didn’t want to play in England. So what would you do differently? Surely those of you who are so in favor of fiscal responsibility would want the team to pay 50-60m for an unproven player like Aguero…

    On Man City, Chelski and Real: Sugar daddies are nice, but there are only so many sheiks, Russian criminals and gullible Spanish taxpayers to go around. The Glazers did borrow heavily against the club, but most new owners do. Very few people have £850m in cash sitting around the house.

    As Uno pointed out, the club is worth FAR more than it owes. The Glazers likely would’ve restructured sooner, but their hands were tied by the market. They are doing the right thing now. As for their “siphoning off assets” from the club, give me a break – anyone can throw numbers around but you have no idea how they fit together. Affluent people move money around in a myriad of ways for a myriad of reasosns.

    All I’m saying is this; hold your judgement until you know what’s going on. If Rooney, Vidic, Ferdinand, and Evra go out the door we’ll have something to worry about.

  29. Although I disagree with the authors opinion, his article has provoked an interesting discussion.

    My personal opinion as an Arsenal supporter:

    I’m very happy that the Glazers took over Man U instead of Arsenal. On the other hand if Alisher Usmanov has his way and takes over Arsenal, the Glazers will look much more appealing than they do now.

    My opinion as an American who is crazy about the EPL:

    I’m embarrassed by the actions of the Glazers and the Liverpool owners. Their actions lack integrity and appear to be motivated by profit and egotism above all else.

  30. Its hilarious for anyone to say that ManU is in good financial health. While they are not dead yet, the club is on the brink. A club valued at £1.2B net (including goodwill), which has a revenue of less than £300m, with a sustainable profit of less than £100m before amortization, has a debt of over £700m with an interest bill of £80m. If current revenue is maintained (though it would likely drop) they will have to sell players like Rooney and Rio to drop the wage bill and generate funds, else the club itself will barely break even, and the interest payment will send it further into the red. Without your star players and lack of success on the pitch, your brand value will drop, and sooner or later (likely around the £900m mark), your debt will exceed your value at which point no one will be stupid enough to buy the club. The only way for this to have a happy ending is for ManU to maintain success with a cheaper and less popular roster. Still I have little to sympathy for ManU. It was their greed that pushed them to be listed on the stock exchange , and same listing gave the Glazers the opportunity to takeover the club.Overly leveraged takeovers rarely turn out for the entity involved. The Glazers will get as much money as they can and sell the club onto someone else to struggle with.

  31. Perhaps the worst analysis ever of a major issue. Nice work from an American guy who obviously knows f*ck all about football. Funny stuff, tremendous prank value.

  32. With the exception of Randy Lerner’s Aston Villa (whose Cleveland Browns are perennial NFL busts), American ownership of EPL team has a terrible record. Liverpool’s Hicks and Gillett and ManU’s Glazer family have taken the wrecking ball to those two clubs. Both teams are trending downward at different rates of decline. Liverpool are in free fall and unlikely to finish in the top four. With game day gate receipts limited by Anfield’s mall venue plus the loss of CL revenue, look for Gerrard and Torres and Macherano to leave the club at season’s end. At ManU, though gradual, an irreversible decline has begun. With the majority of income dedicated to paying off the mega debt, ManU no longer can compete with City and Chelsea for players on the open market, even after selling off Old Trafford and Carrington facilities. Neither Liverpool’s or ManU’s academies are graduating first team players. Stripped of its assets and without the services of SAF and another generation of championship caliber players, eventually MauU will lose value. No sheik, oligarch or potentate will pay top price for leveraged, overvalued assets. They’ll simply wait until ownership cuts its losses and are forced to sell Liverpool and ManU at fire sale prices. Those clubs’ only hope is some form of corporate ownership as opposed to current private and/or family ownership.

    As Liverpool and ManU struggle going forward, the ascendancy of teams with sound business models and sensible self-sustaining business practices (Arsenal and Villa), could alter the EPL existing balance of power for years to come.

  33. they are bad for man u they have earned more money in the world then any other club and the got world record fee for c ronaldo and what they do ???? with manu they are selling w.rooney and the historical Old traford stadium i don,t want to use abuse words but what would i do Shahzaib from karachi pakistan

  34. I think the simple question is that if the financial situaton is as dire as most seem to suggest and report, why then doesn’t Sir Alex just walk away? If there has been any hint of dissatisfaction with funds being made available for transfers I haven’t seen it. He gets criticized for both spending when tranfers don’t work out (ie Anderson, Nani, Tosic, etc.) and when her decides to be cautious (ie not yet sepnding big on a needed stiker this season). So what then is the right approach? If Sir Alex wanted to leave for another club, spend freely, and be compensated as the highest paid manager in the world certainly there are other clubs that would be willing to pay up for his services.

  35. In reply to Gaz
    Quote Gaz:
    “Is it possible in today’s soccer landscape to run a club that is both (1) profitable and (2) successful both domestically and in Europe? My humble opinion – no. It may have been in the pre-Premiership days but not now.”

    Answer to this is yes! Man United were doing all of this before the Glazer’s come along!
    Pre-Premiership days as you say is before 1992!
    They were making nice profits due to success year in year out throughout the 90’s and 00’s. If the Glazer’s didn’t takeover United they would still be making nice profits and more importantly have no debt. So really the Glazer’s taking over the club have made things worse because fact is United would still be winning trophies without them especially with SAF in charge. Without the Glazer’s there would be no talk about selling Old Trafford, Carrington or Rooney!

    Quote Gaz again
    “Would all you Manchester United fans take the debt away if it made your club have a less of a chance to win silverware?”

    Glazer’s brought the debt to the club, so take the Glazer’s(debt) away and United without a doubt would still be winning titles year in year out. Look at a decade before they took over and tell me United were less successful?

    We can thank SAF for United’s success for the last 2 decades and fact is it will still continue with him being manager. All the Glazer’s have done is brought Wall Street loans to United as they couldn’t AFFORD to stump up their own cash to buy the club, the type of loans which caused the worldwide financial crisis. If they tried to do that style of takeover today I don’t think it would happen.

    Also I said you was American because your lack of knowledge on Man United pre Glazer’s, seems with them taking over United some Americans might be interested in following and also you call Football “Soccer”? Most of the world call Football=Football it was invented with that name. It’s only North America which really call Football, Soccer.

  36. Doesn’t that a idiot to understand that Manchester United was taken over by the Glazers as an financial move, not towards the interests of the club

    1) The Glazers have no passion for the club. Manchester United is nothing but a cash cow for them in the long-term.

    2) Since when have they personally injected any of their money into Manchester United’s coffers? Or tried clearing the debt with their OWN money. They certainly have the funds to do so, but they have no intentions of it – Reason being they won’t make as much money from the eventual sale of the club.

    3) Raising ticket prices and increasing marketing of the team = Desperate attempts to pay for the debt. Not only does this unsettle the players, it creates an atmosphere of fear in the club. No players would want to join this great club on the basis that it no longer has the financial stability of power to garner great players to the club.

    4) Ferguson realizes that the reality of the situation is this. If HE, one of the greatest and most influential man in Manchester United history, shows any sign of fear over the club’s future, the players would become more unsettled and the club would lose any allure that it still possesses (barely) over foreign acquisitions as well as the deals with sponsors such as AoN.

    Basically, the club would be much, much, much better if it were owned by supporters and for supporters or by a sensible businessman who creates a stable financial structure for the club to base themselves on. [Manchester United makes enough money, compared to Man C and Chelsea to pay for the transfers as well as the salaries of the players without having the owner to deep dig into the pockets, thus the attractive option to the Glazers aka Leechers of my beloved club]

  37. You people act like you’ve never bought a car before, or a house.

    I would love to see protesters standing outside of every house or every garage that contains a car which was purchased with debt secured against the purchased item. It’s called FINANCE.

    The question isn’t how they bought the club. The question is what they do to maintain it afterwards. The new bond plan seems to be a pretty rational and reasonable way to help unsaddle the interest payments, and they club itself is far from sliding into obscurity any time soon.

    I think the best argument made about the whole issue is how the club will fare once SAF retires. If they don’t keep winning without Fergi THEN there will be a problem. Personally, I worry about that more than how the Glazers have decided to use modern and normal techniques to purchase a big ticket item.

    Maybe we can snake David Moyes off of Everton. The last time we stole the Toffee’s pride and joy it seemed to work out pretty well for us.

  38. i think that Glazer’s have basically been bitten by the financial meltdown, something which took almost every major bank & investment firm to the cleaners. Else, even today Man Utd would have been the world’s most profitable club. However, it’s high time they realize that they’ve bitten more than they can chew, and should make haste for a quick exit. They should take the offer from the Red Knights and leave. My only worry is that no future owner should meddle in footballing affairs. There must be an investment lock-in rule – like a commitment money for 5 years from any buyer – so that the footballing interests are protected.

  39. There has been much focus on the Glazers and they seemed to have been unfairly singled out. People have been buying clubs and milking them ever since the Premier League started back in ’92. The old school ownership of clubs has almost disappeared and Arsenal are the last club to show any sign of the old establishment.
    If all the doomsday prophecies come true, the Glazers will be the biggest losers, not the club.
    Man Utd is the biggest name/club/brand in football (I speak as an Arsenal fan) and if they lost everything tomorrow, could start again with the name alone (much like Coca Cola). The queue to buy them would start with the Man City owners, who would drop the blues like a bad habit and rush to Old Trafford.

  40. look face it man united are SHIT and are going to be seized put in to administration the stadium knocked down ready for new affordable housing to be built on the land as the land will then be sold to the council :)

  41. Finally someone who talks sense. People with no financial education will remain poor. Cash is not the most prudent way to do business. Almost all business takeovers are done by some form of credit or share capital agreement. Shrewd business persons know how to use credit to their advantage. Nothing in terms of facts indicates anything evil from the owners’ side. They’ve done a great job and we’re now not only the most valuable football club but most valuable sports entity in the world according to sports magazine. Our commercial interests in Asia and America have gone up and we’re probably the most stable football team ever. Yet people are accusing an intelligent writer who has presented facts to support his opinion of being a Glazer puppet. Bring facts and a bit of an understanding of business and finance before you lash out like that

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