The Glazer family considered reducing Manchester United’s debt by selling the Old Trafford stadium and then leasing it back, according to a new report in Investopedia.
Having used the club’s own assets as collateral to raise funds to buy it, Malcolm Glazer, the late father of the current owners, plunged United into a massive debt situation when he acquired it in 2005.
The original debt of £660 million that Glazer created then grew to £716 million in 2010.
In 2012 the family raised funds by floating Manchester United PLC on the New York Stock Exchange.
The Investopedia report suggests that in an effort to reduce the debt, the Glazers wanted to sell the Old Trafford stadium and then lease it back, but were prevented from doing so in 2013 when the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) won a court battle to declare the ground ‘an asset of community value’. The ruling ‘prevents the owners from instituting a sell and leaseback arrangement for the stadium, which had previously been considered’ the report claims.
The share issue and other restructuring measures reduced the club’s debt considerably but it is now on the rise again, increasing by £137 million to £384 million in the latest accounts issued in Autumn 2019 – a rise of 55%.
The stadium itself is suffering from underinvestment and a number of maintenance problems have been reported, most notably a leaking roof. Yet the Glazers actually reduced spending on ground maintenance by £2.4 million in 2019.
Spare a thought for the person sat in this seat at Old Trafford tonight 😂🌧 pic.twitter.com/057xbupHyv
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) April 24, 2019
In a long and lamenting report on the once proud stadium’s demise, The Guardian described the ground as ‘tired’ and ‘worn’, stating ‘the seating is crammed and wifi patchy. The directors’ box has an antiquated feel and the bars and suites a faded glamour…Old Trafford is no sleek, 21st-century facility like Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, opened in 2006, or the new Wembley (2007), and is further behind cutting-edge venues such as … Tottenham Hotspur Stadium … Since the Glazers’ takeover in 2005 there has been no notable modernisation of Old Trafford, the increased capacity to 75,000 via the quadrants built in 2006 having been greenlit before the American family became the proprietors.’
It all smacks of the landlord who lets his house go to rack and ruin because he can’t sell it with a sitting tenant. And it is another reason why fans continue to protest against the Glazer family’s management of their beloved club.
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