AndersRed is a brilliant United blog which looks at our debt and Glazers in great detail. Andy, who is behind the blog, has spared a few minutes of his time to give his view on the debt and the Red Knights.
Scott the Red: How long have to been following United for?
Andy: I can’t really put a date on it, but it was sometime after the ’79 Cup Final, I was seven. My dad was in the army and we moved around a lot when I was a kid so I didn’t feel that I “came” from anywhere. His family was from Chester and nobody had heard of Chester City at my school. United were near Chester, were glamorous and different and everyone else in my little school claimed to be Liverpool or Forest supporters so it seemed a good idea. Much to my shame I didn’t start going until I left university and met a lad at my first job who was a Mancunian red stranded in London and was looking for someone to travel to OT with.
Scott: You’ve been watching the reds play for some time them. What have been your favourite moments?
Andy: 26th May 1999 as I was lucky enough to be there. Two moments that day stick in my mind, looking up and seeing the flares in our end (such an amazing sight the club put them on a credit card) and then the all night party on La Ramblas, singing “Gillingham’s a big game”, “Happy Birthday Sir Matt” and “taking over, taking over, taking over Barcelona”. That last song strayed in my head for months afterwards.
More recently the 7-1 against Roma was amazing. I’d been at the away leg and seen the police battering men, women and kids. OT wanted blood that night and the team delivered beautifully.
Scott: Your blog gives wonderfully insightful information about our ownership and the debt. How did you come to know so much about it all?
Andy: I just applied a pretty common set of skills to looking at the situation. The surprising thing is that nobody else with similar skills had bothered to do the analysis. The more I looked at what was revealed in the bond documents the angrier I got and the more I wanted to do something about it and that meant digging further and further. Whilst I get a certain satisfaction out of, I’d prefer to go back to the old days of football being an escape from the day job rather than part of it.
Scott: So, the bond issue hasn’t improved anything?
Andy: For the Glazers yes, for the club not at all. The bank debt was cheaper than the bonds and limited what dividends the Glazers could take out. Some of it was being steadily repaid (at a rate of about £5m every six months) but the rest didn’t have to be repaid until 2014-16. The terms on the bonds aren’t bad given the credit crunch but the whole bond issue was totally unnecessary.
Scott: So, can you see a way of United maintaining success whilst the Glazers are in charge?
Andy: Maybe for another season or maybe two but not in the longer term. Their business model demands success on the cheap and that is an incredibly hard trick to pull off. Fergie has done an amazing job squeezing the last drop out of the Giggs/Scholes generation (as City found out to their cost) but that can’t last. I can’t see the Glazers providing the investment needed and Sir Alex will eventually retire.
Scott: With your anti-Glazer stance very apparent, why have you chosen to keep renewing your season ticket and not following FC United?
Andy: Whilst I understood and respected those who felt they couldn’t step inside Old Trafford after the takeover I never believed a boycott would work in 2005. There really was strong demand for tickets back then, even after the 2005/6 price rises. I never had any allusions about the Glazers, but not enough supporters cared to make collective action a viable option in my view.
Having said that I have huge respect for those who took a stand and boycotted. Andy Walsh did a Radio 4 programme about giving up going to United a few years ago and it was a very emotional and powerful story to listen to and I know many others went through the same thing. I contributed a bit of cash to FC when it started and went to a few games but it wasn’t for me. I totally agree with the club’s aims and principles and wish them all the best. FCUM is part of the United family and I really hope the two Uniteds can coexist happily in the years to come.
Scott: There has been a lot of talk about the Red Knights over the past couple of months. Do you think they are they the answer?
Andy: Yes I do. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some of those involved and I think they are the real deal. Whether they can pull it off and find enough like minded individuals I don’t know. We all know we need new owners, so what sort of owners? Owners who are reds, who want United to return to being a football club and for the fans to be part of the club or another Mansour or Abramovich with unknown aims and motivations?
Scott: What do you think would be the ideal solution, in a perfect world, to the situation we’re in?
Andy: In a perfect world the Glazers’ financial situation would become so bad that they became “distressed” sellers willing to take almost any price. Then the Red Knights could snap up the club, pay off the bonds and off we go.
Scott: Cheers Andy.
edit: In light of the talk about renewing season tickets. My advice would be to NOT RENEW for now at least. If the Glazers think they will still have the guaranteed revenue from the thousands of season tickets around the ground, then they are under no pressure to sell. The deadline is Sunday 13 June 2010 which means you still have plenty of time to decide. Even if you have every intention of renewing your season ticket, I believe it would be in our best interest to delay doing this.