BBC Panorama Documentary Exposes Glazer Family Debt at £1.1bn

Feb. 10, 2010 - Birmingham, WEST MIDLANDS, United Kingdom England UK - epa02024299 Anti Glazer family banners unveiled by Manchester United fans prior to kick off in the Barclays Premier League fixture between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Villa Park in Birmingham, Britain on 10 February 2010.

The Glazer family are in the news yet again for all the wrong reasons as BBC Panorama has found evidence exposing the Glazer family debt at £1.1bn, which is some £400m more than previously thought. After borrowing extensively against their suffering shopping malls in America, the Glazer’s hold as owners of Manchester United must surely be threatened as the recently quieted green and gold protest led by MUST will surely gain more steam in the upcoming weeks and months.

The BBC documentary uncovered financial documents stating the Glazers have borrowed £388m against their American based malls, under the name First Allied Corporation, and £66m against the NFL franchise Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The £700m debt directly attributed to Manchester United will soon bare an interest rate of 16.25%, a staggering number considering the cost and investment needed to run a football club.

As fan displeasure continues to grow, anxiety and dread over future investment to better the club stays at the forefront of United supporters’ thoughts. The mounting debt is drawing concern from all over the globe. From Tampa Bay Bucs fans, non-Premier League supporting Americans and other Premier League figures such as Wigan chairman David Whelan, (he recently revealed he almost bought Manchester United for £11m twenty years ago) who was quoted in the Panorama documentary stating, “it’s unsustainable, the debt in the Premier League“.

Manchester United management continue to stick with their guns by saying the money is there to spend, if the right player comes along for the right price. Upset United supporter and City analyst Andy Green first uncovered the extent of the Glazers’ debt and believes, “These are people who tell us not to worry about Manchester United debt because they are great businessmen. In their core business in the US they got it absolutely wrong.”

Green’s discovery came when he figured out the Glazers’ mortgages for First Allied Corp (the malls and shopping centres, which are private and records are unavailable to the public) had been bundled with other loans as Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities, which are publicly traded and require detailed information that the Glazers must provide. Green found these such mortgages on 63 of the 64 First Allied shopping centres totaling the previously stated £388m. Four of the shopping centres have already gone bankrupt due to insufficient revenue growth and inability to keep up with interest payments. A sign that more could soon come?

The financial picture that has been painted by the Glazers’ brush has Green wondering how they’ll survive the mounting £1.1bn debt. Also painted in the same canvass are the payment in kind loans, or PIKs, which are owned by Red Football, the parent company who owns Manchester United. The loans are worth £200m and will soon have an interest rate of 16.25% attached to them.

United chief David Gill stresses that the PIK loans have nothing to do with the club itself. “We don’t worry about the PIK repayment. That’s nothing to do with the club”. However, sources close to the Glazer family have spoken of Red Football’s intentions to possibly use cash from the club to help pay off the PIKs. The Glazer family states they’re “comfortable” with the loans.

Ultimately, the situation with the Glazer family represents a large and spreading problem with clubs such as Liverpool, West Ham and Portsmouth in the Premier League who mount such large and unsustainable debts – some barley fighting off bankruptcy.

The BBC Panorama documentary, Man United – Into the Red can be viewed in the UK using the BBC iPlayer. The show itself originally aired Tuesday, June 8th and has received mixed results. A recent tweet from The Times Oliver Kay read, “I don’t want to accuse Panorama of dumbing down, but…..#MUFC documentary not living up to the hype. Sorry”

Feel free to leave a comment letting others know your thoughts about the documentary and the Glazer family’s debt.

Clips from the BBC Panorama videos can be viewed by anyone in the world at:

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