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Why the 50+1 and Glazers Out campaigns must succeed to save Man United

by Red Billy

Following the protests held at Old Trafford yesterday against the Glazer family’s ownership of Manchester United, Twitter user @tfwriter has written a brilliant summary of why fans are so desperate to remove the controlling shareholders from the club.

In his thread, ‘Michael’ has exposed the financial activities of the Glazers during their tenure at Old Trafford. Some of the points made about the American tycoons include:

– The club’s debt stands at £511 million. The Glazers bought United with £540 million borrowed using the club as collateral and immediately plunged a financially healthy club into a mountain of debt.

– The fact that the debt has only been reduced by £29 million in 16 years means it would take 282 years for the club to become debt-free under the Glazers.

– The interest paid on the debts raised stood at £828 million as of May 2020.

– Since floating United on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012, the Glazers have earned £452 million in share sales (2017 figures). Michael adds ‘It goes without saying, but absolutely none of the money generated from share sales has been put back into the football club.’

– The Glazers have also removed at least £88 million in dividends paid to themselves, which they have done every year regardless of the financial results. There was a further £267 million dividend paid in 2011 according to @KieranMaguire, who was interviewed by United Peoples TV last week.

– At least £92 million has been taken out by the Glazers and their appointed directors in ‘Directors Fees’ (Source: @barneyrednews) and they withdrew ‘consultancy fees of £8m per year’ before they did the share issue.

All of this adds up to £2 billion that the Glazers have removed from United. Michael then goes on to talk about the lack of investment since the family took control. He notes that:

Sir Alex Ferguson was allowed a net spend (transfers in minus transfers out) of just £19 million per season under the Glazers (£158 million across 8 years).

– Michael says ‘In 09/10 where we received £80m for Ronaldo, our answer was to spend under £25m to bring in Gabriel Obertan, Antonio Valencia and Michael Owen… to replace the best player in the world,’ and ‘Whilst City were building one of the best squads in the world, we were taking punts on players like Bebe and Manucho…The year City signed Aguero, United signed Young.’

– Much of the improved £82 million per season net spend since 2013 has been mismanaged by Ed Woodward, Michael says, who has ‘overpaid for average players and given out ludicrous contracts to even worse ones.’

The writer does not name names, but it is well-known that there have been huge payoffs to José Mourinho, Wayne Rooney and Alexis Sanchez, that millions were squandered on Angel Di Maria, that David de Gea’s contract is arguably double the duration it should have been and almost double the value of the world’s next highest paid goalkeeper. The awarding of Phil Jones with a five year contract recently and 32-year-old Nemanja Matic with a three-year deal last summer are other questionable decisions. Meanwhile, Ander Herrera was lost on a free. The price paid for Harry Maguire was also hugely inflated.

– There has been a lack of investment in the club’s facilities as well. An average of just £3.7 million per year has been spent, ‘the majority of that being spent in hospitality. Even plans to expand the Ticket Office were shelved in an attempt to save money.’

‘The only major work done on Old Trafford under The Glazers were the new quadrants in 2006,’ says Michael, ‘a project that The Glazers were obliged to fulfil as part of their takeover, as considerable money had already been spent.’

Michael also notes that if the Glazers decided to sell, they would want at least £3 billion for their stake. According to The Mirror yesterday, that figure is actually £4 billion.

The situation is unlikely to change unless sufficient pressure can be brought to the Glazers, either by fans lobbying the government to change football ownership laws – ideally to the 50+1 model where fans own the majority of the club – or by a wholescale and systematic boycott of the club and its merchandising. That is why the current protests must continue until these ‘leeches’, as Gary Neville referred to them last week, can be removed.

To follow all the latest news and developments in the 50+1 and Glazers Out campaigns, visit our dedicated page here for all our articles and videos on this vital subject.

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