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Prepare Yourself For Ferguson’s Criticism Of Fans…

Sir Alex Ferguson has given an exclusive interview with The Mail On Sunday where he “attacks” Glazer critics. The paper labels the attack “extraordinary” and claims Fergie tells the fans to back off, giving a “warning” to all fans.

Part of me can tolerate Ferguson putting up with the Glazers, because if he spoke out against them and made his position untenable, there’s no way another manager could sustain success on the budget Ferguson has. He may well feel responsible for this mess, considering it was his petty row over a race horse that landed us in it, so will be keen to make amends, you’d like to think.

But no part of me can support the manager giving his public backing to the Glazers whilst criticising the fans. That is unacceptable. He can publicly support the Glazers, if he believes that is necessary, without having a go at us.

Forbes tell us year after year that we are the “most valuable sports franchise in the world”. More valuable than Real Madrid, the Dallas Cowboys, Barcelona and the New York Yankees, yet under the Glazer ownership, United’s transfer policy largely consists of bringing in bargains or young players on smaller contracts. Roy Keane left in 2005 but it was years before that when he stopped being our midfield enforcer. Pretty much 10 years have gone by since he was the best in the game yet we still haven’t come close to replacing him. Liverpool have brought in the likes of Xabi Alonso and Raul Meireles, Chelsea have brought in Michael Ballack, Michael Essien and Raul Meireles, Manchester City have brought in Nigel De Jong and Yaya Toure, whilst United have splashed the cash on Owen Hargreaves then given up.

The “most valuable sports franchise in the world” couldn’t even make it out of the group stages of the Champions League last season and the only reason why the “most valuable sports franchise in the world” ran the title to the final day of the season was because a 37-year-old came out of retirement after Christmas.

Lots of fans felt like enough was enough in 2005 when the Glazers bought us and gave up their season tickets. Every year since, with the prices going up and up, even more fans have given up their season tickets. Then there are some fans who every year fork out £532-£950 every year as a basic, without the cost of away tickets (which see us charged £200 more a year than fans of teams like Wigan because we’re a category A game for the home fans, a battle the club hasn’t helped us fight), only to see the Glazers not reinvest our money on signing a world class central midfielder. Nobody is asking us to spend like City or Real Madrid, but the “most valuable sports franchise in the world” ranks behind Chelsea, City, Liverpool and Spurs in the transfer league. In fact, per season since 03-04, we’ve seen £1m more going out than Aston Villa.

We’ll see what Ferguson has to say tomorrow and hopefully the Mail On Sunday will have sensationalised the interview in their headlines, but it is appalling for Ferguson to criticise the fans for being sceptical where the Glazers are concerned. He either is ridiculously detached from the fans, not being to grasp why on earth fans would be angry and pouring their money in to a club only to see that money not reinvested on the field, or he’s being ridiculously disrespectful, with a total grasp of how the fans feel, but still opting to speak out against us as if our concerns are trivial.

Sir Alex Ferguson, the socialist.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

View all posts by Scott »



  1. Marq says:

    So… Where’s the attack on fans? I’m still waiting to see it

  2. Dave Mack says:

    Marq … that’s why STR has become so defensive … its tabloid jounalism at its worst. Fergie hasn’t attacked fans just said that there’s always been a segment of our supporters who don’t like the owners whoever they are but most fans judge what happens on the basis of the football we play!!

  3. Blood_red says:

    Scott, as a daily follower of your blog I ask that you take this article down. Glazer debate aside for a minute, you’ve attacked a man who has brought more to our club than anyone could ever have imagined, and more importantly, who has never shown anything but respect to our fan base. You did this based on an article that hadn’t even been published yet. Now it has been published, and we can see that Ferguson did not in any way attack our supporters, the article should be removed. Ferguson said two years ago that he was against the LUHG campaign. Why this is headline news, I’ve no idea.

  4. says:

    The One / DreadedRed, thanks for that…

  5. Wakey says:

    Your theory makes little sense. If winning things is so integral to paying the interest then why would they sell the star players? Short term cash injections don’t solve anything. The stars are needed for 2 reasons, to win things and qualify for Europe and because the starts help build a brand and drive commercial revenues.

    The reason players might have left if we weren’t winning anything is the same reason they are leaving Arsenal and that’s they can go somewhere and win trophies while also being at a club that financially operates in fairy tale world and can pay stupid wages while challenging to win things.

    And do you think the situation would be any different under the PLC. I would say the situation would actually be worse. They would rely on prize money much more as match day and commercial would be bringing much less in so would have less in the wage budget. It’s possible but not certain the transfer budget may be a little higher but no where near the 40mill of the interest payments . Would have made attracting players harder than it is now and made it tough to keep them as well

    On the revenues winning the trophies hasn’t really driven them, it’s the clubs history. It’s exactly the reason commercially Liverpool does better than Chelsea as History trumps short term success.

    As for your Broke tirade against them lets correct a few issues.

    American Sports Business
    - They own a AMERICAN FOOTBALL team not baseball
    - Owning an NFL franchise is a licence to print money
    - The Tampa Bay Buccs were a nothing team who won the Lottery when the Glazers took over. Think Blackburn and Jack Walker.
    - They were very hands on with the team unlike at United and overhauled the whole franchise often by throwing money at it.
    - They also managed to get the City Council to build them a state of the art stadium for them (Franchises can move city and are worth so much for cities that councils will do anything to either keep or poach a franchise)
    - In 2002 the achieved their goal and won the Superbowl.
    - Since then it’s been up and down, still doing better than pre Glazer but far from the heights. Building the Super Bowl team took so such as giving up important draft picks for multiple years that that didn’t help, like many sugar daddy owners when a goals achieved they lose drive/focus and fans soon turned when they weren’t winning superbowls every year

    Mall Business
    - This also wasting Broke in 2000. They were buying more of these and it was a boom business.
    - They minimised personal risk by buying most on mortgages. This meant only a fraction needed invested and kept cash free to buy further malls
    - Each mall was its own company but part of the umbrella organisation
    - Property and Retail both took a hit when the economy started to downturn in the second half of the decade so malls took a double hit.
    - Some of their malls then fell into the red, especially when introductory rates on the mortgages ended
    - The cost to cover the losses would have seen profits from other malls used to  cover them and significantly their investment without any likelyhood of things changing
    - So the problem ones were instead defaulted on.minimised lost investment and protected cans from the other malls.
    - They could then be written off in the parent companies accounts reducing their tax liability.
    - They were hardly broke when they could write off malls like that and still see the parent company turn a profit in the economy.some of the malls are making significant amounts and don’t look like that will change.

    - They spent years buying shares out of their own pocket
    - The value of the first 30% that forced the takeover was 200-400mill depending on how much over the market value they paid each time
    - Hardly something you do if you are broke
    - Especially when the large shareholders were all regularly annoyed at the waste and inability to exploit the commercial opportunities that lowered divided payments and potentially damaged share value somewhat. There were better investments out there if you needed a return.

    Basically your post just highlights the problem with the anti glazer campaign. They are basically like watching Fox News, screw the facts they just get in the way of a good rant that can get the masses into an uproar.

  6. Wakey says:

    Scott the Red says:
    Shebangsthedrums – What purpose does that serve? If you think that United wouldn’t won more if not for the shackles of £500m being paid out to service the debt, you’re deluded, thick or ridiculously naive.

    Actually Scott you are the one who is deluded if you think the interest payments are actually a major issue. For starters the interest payments have no impact on wages which is the bigger factor in us missing out on players than transfer fees.

    The tax rate in places like Spain allowed them to pay more for a long time and the Sugar Daddy clubs can spend more on  wages than they make in revenue. United’s wage budget which is based on the clubs pre Glazer policy of wage budget being linked to revenue is limiting but unless you want to rack up debts every year that can’t be controlled what option is there.

    Transfer fees don’t seem to be a problem, the money was in the bank losing value. It’s  hardly the actions of a family who only care with grabbing United money for their own is it own use, it’s more the actions of people who were willing to give SAF the funds he wanted.

    And are you naive enough to believe that under the PLC or any other buyer that there would have been another 500mill because that’s idiotic. The PLC had costs and hadn’t shown any ability to take the commercial side to the next level which was needed and any other owner but a sugar daddy would have wanted a return. Even the Red Knights would have been as most of them couldn’t afford to stump up so much money without a return. The 500mill,is simply misleading and doesn’t paint the full picture which is vital for a proper discussion on the financial impact of the Glazers

  7. mansuy united says:

    If SAF is content, why can’t you lot be? Oh, because someone took a loan to buy something. Have none of you ever taken a loan? Have any of you never accrued debt? I took a ton of loans to go to university, am I being a disgusting leech for using that knowledge to try to advance myself? They bought an asset, a company, using a loan and are making the brand stronger daily. This is absolute madness.

    “But if we hadn’t won trophies…” — for fuck’s sake! We DID win trophies. We WILL continue to win them. And if we have signed Kagawa, Baines, Lucas, and RvP then go on to win the treble — what will you all say then?! God I hope we do so I can laugh at all of you fickle folk.

    I support MUFC. None of this internet banter will change a god damn thing about their business model nor our success on the pitch. Get behind your club. I can’t wait til we win the league and all you pricks have to eat your words. The Glazers will have helped us achieve this success. Grow up people.

    United til I die.

    (Thank you, STR, for this blog. While I do not always agree with you, I am so happy we have a place to call home.)

  8. Paul H says:

    @STR there are many factors that could influence winning more (or indeed less) over the past 7 seasons. Our financing arrangements are not one of them. It’s not stopped us from great coaching, great youth development, great commercial development and having a great manager, operating free from owner meddling. You know, the manager? The one you lit the fuse on, then sat back watching it all go off and tolerated him being called a c*** several times to boot, without either stepping in or defending him.

    Rival supporters will be rubbing their hands together in glee reading some of this stuff.

    Anyway, I think I can say on behalf of ‘….most real fans….’, in Fergie we continue to trust. I cant wait for the season tickets to drop through the door and getting back to OT to show my MASSIVE appreciation for him.

    There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest we’d have done any better (or worse) with a better looking balance sheet.

  9. The One says:

    DreadedRed, it’s not the number of words that matters and your point certainly came across much clearer than mine. Cheers!!

  10. xol says:


    Nothing you say makes any sense. Your stats and figures are misleading and always try to paint a picture that everything is ok when virtually all the press’ financial experts know otherwise. Your words are poison. Furthermore, you jump at any opportunity to try to bad mouth Fans groups at any opportunity as if they are the enemy. The only people I can think of who have MUST as an enemy are those fucking blood sucking leeches that you and a few others are here to defend, all day, all night. You only started posting about actual football matters after being accused of never posting about football matters. The way you lay into various posters on this and other threads also disgusts me. There’s a long time reader, 1st time poster on this thread that has watched the Club he loves for decades who obviously felt compelled to say something. His opinion is valid and welcome, yet you have a go at him, predictably.

    I can’t even be bothered counter arguing with you because I see through you and it is becoming evident that others are starting to as well. Your words are poison and it’s heart breaking to see others respecting your ‘expertise’ because you are pulling the wool over their eyes.

    Red Scot comes on for the first time in ages and you jump at the opportunity to lay into him.

    You try to portray anti glazers as a minority and MUST as bad. Most hate the Glazers and all hate the debt.

    MUST represent (currently) the biggest threat to you (the Glazers and their representatives) so it is natural that you use lies and ignore important facts in my above posts. ie I show that MP’s of all political persuasions are Patrons of MUST then you patronisingly try to explain that they’re just an old fashioned trade union type organisation, behind the times. When in truth they have their finger on the pulse and represent our future because if the club we love more than you ever falls, it is us not you that will be there to catch it and MUST, being 170,000 plus normal United fans that don’t care for your beloved leeches, are the Glue that binds us together. Experienced Reds remember how not enough fans showed interest in shares in the past and the hope is that if the opportunity ever arises again, it will not be missed.

  11. xol says:

    And what you say about it being difficult for people to refuse being a Patron – what even the CITY DIRECTOR?


  12. xol says:

    Not Director (that would be something!) but a City Fan and MP.

  13. DreadedRed says:


    Back off. Fair criticism of our Gaffer does not make a supporter a cunt.

    socialism – a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

    shit fan splatter

  14. DreadedRed says:

    Looks like 915red got his just desserts, good!

  15. RedDevil4Lyfe says:

    Get off your high horse.

    Fans can give fergie slack but he cant give em slack back? Seems like ridiculous double standards.

    Chin up and accept it.

  16. 915red says:

    DreadedRed I see you’ve mastered the copy/paste function on your computer….thank you SO much for educating me. wanker.

  17. DreadedRed says:

    Dear wanker

    Thanks for your thanks at 18:00.
    How did you know that I have mastered the copy/paste function?
    Are you perhaps an analyst? Or just anal?

    Why do you sign your name ‘wanker’ when your username is 915red?

  18. Scott the Red says:

    Wakey – At no point have I argued United would have spent £500m on players, I’m confused as to where you’ve got that from…? The fact is, if not for the Glazers, as “the most valuable sports franchise in the world”, we would have had more money to spend on players that what we have spent.

    For you to argue that £500m going out of our club to service the Glazers’ debt is not a “major issue” is very worrying indeed.

  19. Scott the Red says:

    Blood_red – Crikey. Did you feel respected when he told fans who weren’t happy with the Glazers to “fuck off and support Chelsea”? I didn’t.

  20. Scott the Red says:

    shebangsthedrums – So you honestly think that if the greatest manager in the history of world football had spent another £100m/£200m on players since 2005 he wouldn’t have won any more than he has done? Really? Wow. You clearly don’t rate him too highly then. Look at what Mancini managed with that kindof money. I guess you’ll be hoping he replaces Fergie ASAP.

  21. Shebangsthedrums says:

    Scott – why even compare Utd with City. Unless we get a rich benefactor for whom money is no issue, then we can’t compete and quite frankly I wouldn’t want us to. As I’ve already stated, I don’t like the Glazer ownership, but who’s to say any other owner would invest more money. Even without debt, what if they just pocket more profit for themselves, there’s no guarantee more money would be invested back in the club. I remember Martin Edwards wasn’t always willing to splash the cash, hence we missed out on Shearer, going on your logic again, just think how much more our great manager could have won with him. We also missed out on Ronaldhino when as a PLC, because the shareholders don’t want a dent in heir profits. As I said, I’m very happy with the success I’ve seen. It’d be nice to have a good owner and no debt, the FA and Premier league shouldn’t have let the Glazers buy the club with debt, but that’s where we are. The City business model isn’t sustainable, they will never be able to keep up with he wage demands they have now set for themselves so will always be reliant on their owner, who will no doubt one day leave. Ultimately, what do you expect him to say about HIS employers, we won’t find out what Sir Alex really thinks until either he retires or there’s a change of ownership. Until then, I’ll take what he says with a pinch of salt and all the jumped up over priced money grabbing whores of footballers can go to the bitters or the chavs.

  22. Scott the Red says:

    shebangsthedrums – Where did I compare United with City? I didn’t. You ridiculously suggested that if Fergie had more money to spend over the past 7 years that he wouldn’t have necessarily won more. Either you’re talking nonsense to try and defend the indefensible OR you obviously don’t rate Fergie very highly. Which is it?

    I personally think if Ferguson had even £100m over 7 years we would have won considerably more. Baffled as to how you could question that tbh.

  23. Red Devil says:

    I wont ramble on this topic for long as I’ve already written about this issue in great detail in the past.
    Scott_The_Red was kind enough to give me the opportunity of contributing an article on this topic on this fantastic United blog. I also had the opportunity to discuss and debate this topic quite ferociously with many of the contributors and posters on here.

    There are one or two things that I will say (and If my posts during that time are checked I said it then also) it is boiling down to the same issues.

    1) I said the debt wasn’t the end of the world if United are able to keep the success going – Sir Alex has managed to do that till now, but the red-herring or risk was that what if the success dries up for a few years due to some reason? Our commercial income can keep us going for a while, but this is the first year we have gone out in the group stages…what if we fail to qualify for the champions league for a couple of years…? A lot of the older supporters will remember the bad times and admit that in football anything can happen…
    Just look at the sort of effect our going out early in the group stages has had on our financial position this year— This is the real risk – what if scenarios where the success cant be sustained and United have no God Given right to win every year…

    2)The PIK’s – My own analysis concurs mostly with what Andersred has so eloquently put down with regards to the PIK debt. I had mentioned how poisonous those were and the complete secrecy surrounding how those were liquidated is lets put it this way ‘very intriguing’ . A lot of this IPO could be down to deleveraging the Group Consolidated debt and not necessarily the debt on the Standalone Entity that is Manchester United’s books.

    3) I fully agree with Scott’s/(later Willie’s) and Costas views that a lot of the current opinions would be hugely different if we had followed down Arsenal’s path over the last five years and which we are in danger of doing now. Forget the last five years, Hell If Rooney would not been persuaded to stay back last year and had left to join City (c’mon we all know thats where he was headed) all of us would be singing a different tune. I had pointed out these scenarios, but it was dismissed as rumor-mongering, scare-mongering, etc etc at that point but its all coming full circle now.

    Again, it is not a criticism of the Glazers per se, just a critical appraisal of their financial policies and strategies and the ‘risks’ and strains it puts the club under – They have been very good by not interfering in the playing side of things (but then again with Sir Alex around, they didn’t need to) and they have definitely moved the commercial side of the business much better but the costs and risks imposed on the club are far greater

    Anyways, Thats all I’m going to say on this subject – to each their own..!

  24. Red Devil says:

    I’ll just add that we must keep total faith on Sir Alex…God knows where we would have been had it not been for him. So guys calling for him to quit or abusing him can go and take a jump…

    At the same time, Sir Alex is also human and has his imperfections – so making him unquestionable/above any sort of criticism is the other extreme….

  25. Shebangsthedrums says:

    Scott – you compared what Mancini had done with money, that’s the comparison you make. What do you want? United to spend more money than we have so we can win every trophy out there every year, would it mean anything then? Competition is good, it makes your achievement valuable and all I’m saying is I’m happy with what Utd have achieved and the way we’ve done it. Always with a mixture of young talent, some bought some grown, some mid range price players, ie Carrick, Evra, Vidic and the odd star man.

  26. Scott the Red says:

    shebangsthedrums – Would it mean anything? Erm, yes. Did it mean anything in 1999 when we were spending more money than any of our rivals? How long have you been following United for? Watching United win the Treble, I wasn’t beating myself up over the fact we had spent a lot of money to do it. Were you? What an utterly ridiculous statement. If we’ve made the money, why shouldn’t we spend it? You’re happier with us spending £500m on debt and watching City win the league than you would be us spending an extra £100m/£200m on players and us winnig the league? Eh? Are you a blue on a wind up or what?

    We’ll call it a day here. You’re on a different planet mate.

  27. mansuy united says:

    I am not a proper Mancunian — hell I’m not even British — but I will say that a huge reason I support United (and respect clubs like Barcelona) is that I believe in the philosophy of creating success, not buying it (ala our youth system/investment). I think that is what @shebangsthedrums was hinting at.

    That said, I have no problem with the club spending money in the market. However, I believe in spending money you earn and not money that is injected by a cow (perhaps a fine line because it could be argued any club deemed worthy of investment by said cow has “earned” it’s success by means of reputation and sound foundation). Therefore, I understand and share the frustration of fans who see that money being funnelled out to service a debt. All I can say is, let’s thing long-term on this…

    The Glazers have turned the brand into something extraordinary — even the Glazers’ fiercest opponents should be level-headed enough to recognize this. This ensures its long-term growth and stability. Stability we’ll be glad for when FFP comes in.

    I’ve made my opinions of this whole matter known in previous posts, but I just wanted to hop in and hopefully clarify a point @shebangs was making (a bit recklessly). We’re all on the same side, gents.

  28. Shebangsthedrums says:

    Scott – I was following Utd long before the treble season if it matters, and what a fantastic season it was. But if we did that every year, it would become meaningless. Thankfully it doesn’t happen every year that’s why 99 was so special. I’ve never stated anywhere Utd shouldn’t spend what money they make, but that doesn’t equate to us spending like city either. We will leave it here Scott, but it’s been nice to interact with the person who gives us this great blog.
    mansuy – spot on, as I stated before, Utd have always had a good mix of youth, experience, grown talent and bought talent.

  29. Scott the Red says:

    shebangsthedrums – I didn’t say we should spend like City. I simply said you obviously don’t rate Ferguson very highly if you don’t think he could have won more trophies if he had spent more money over the past 7 years, given what Mancini has done over 2 years with money. I find it insane that any United fan would think winning trophies could ever become “meaningless”. Good job we won fuck all last year and City won the league to keeps fans like you happy eh? Let’s hope we don’t win a meaningless title next year. 20 league titles? BORING.

  30. Wakey says:

    @Scott The Red

    Except you are buying the lie that without the Glazers the 500mill of Interest would have been available for transfers.

    Even if we make the assumption that the PLC could have increase revenues and reduced waste anywhere close to Glazers it’s not like the PLC didn’t have costs. The cost of running a business as a PLC is higher and dividends have to be paid out on profits. The difference between the cost of the Glazers and cost of the PLC will be no where close to the £40mill a year that many assume it is, how much is hard to know because we simply don’t have any accounts for a PLC operating at anything close to the revenue levels of the Glazers.

    And yes it would have been good if we had got a few more players BUT as I said that hasn’t been down to transfer fees. The Money WAS there and was clearly being held in reserve for transfers (how else do you explain them sitting on 150mill of cash when Interest rates are so poor that it’s below the rate of inflation so was losing money). Some big bids have been put in and that’s only the handful we know about, no doubt there were others.

    Agains as as I pointed out the sticking point has been 
    1) Players having a preference for another club
    2) Wages

    With 1 if a player have a preference for another club and that club comes in for them there isn’t much that can be done. We had that situation with the PLC with Shearer.

    And on wages the interest doesn’t impact this one bit, the Glazers aggressive drive to increase commercial revenues have actually allowed us to compete more effectively than we would have without as wages are linked to revenue not profit. As I said elsewhere we could reduce non-wage club costs by 100mill and it wouldn’t help wages one bit, that would require a policy change but as both the PLC and the Glazers knew this is dangerous when a club has to be self sufficient like most do rather than being sugar daddy funded. 

    This is why I get so wound up on this subject though because too many people fall into the trap of simplifying  matters  and ignore context which in turn lead others to do so. 

  31. DreadedRed says:


    Had the Glazer’s been able to buy United without making the Club pay off the loan, the money would have been expended elsewhere or retained. Some of the money would likely have been spent on improving our chances of winning trophies. As a Club’s finishing position in the League is very closely linked to the salaries earned by the squad, it stands to reason that we would have been more successful had the money not been spent servicing debt incurred by the owners.

    The money could have been invested, earning the Club interest. In fact, had the ½ billion pounds merely been left in an interest bearing account, the Club’s turnover would have increased by interest attracted. Your “50% of turnover allocated to wages” would also have increased.

    I doubt that Scott the Red cares what surname our owners go by. His discontent is aimed at the Glazers, for it is they who lumbered us with the debt. Suggesting that other owners would have also indebted the Club does not vindicate our owners. Had their surname been Smith, StR would care just as much. Similarly, comparing the current ownership model with the previous PLC does not alter the fact that had the new owners serviced the debt themselves, we wouldn’t have had to.

  32. Scott the Red says:

    Wakey – I don’t know how many times I have to say I don’t think £500m would have gone on transfers. I think I’ve corrected you on that twice now. It’s irritating that you keep ignoring that point. What I am saying, without question, is that without the debt of the Glazers we would have had more money to spend. I have repeatedly said that I know all £500m wouldn’t have gone on transfers.

    Are you saying that as a plc you think United would have had more money to spend on transfers than we have under the Glazers? Yes or no? If the answer is yes, brilliant. If the answer is no, provide proof. “The difference between the cost of the Glazers and cost of the PLC will be no where close to the £40mill a year that many assume it is.” – based on what? Saying something doesn’t make it true. Do you have anything to support any of the claims you make? I’d love to read newspaper articles providing this information.

  33. Dela says:

    @Scott the Red — If the Glazers didn’t buy United, who do you think would currently be in control of it? I’d find it extremely hard to believe that nobody could have tried to take control of it since it was quite clearly vulnerable to a takeover attempt in the early 00s. Particularly if United saw the same revenue growth, and same growth of brand recognition internationally, I’d find it quite hard to believe it wouldn’t have been bought outright by some other group.

  34. Wakey says:

    @Scott The Red
    I have provided these figures before but here they are again.

    There were 262million regular shares as shown

    The financial figures in 2004 were as follows.
    - Turnover 169m
    - Profit 58m
    - Ordinary Dividend paid  2.65p
    - Special Dividend for 2003 performance  1.5p

    So that means that They paid out 6.9mill in ORDINARY dividends for that year. They then paid out a further 3.9mill in special dividends. So that’s a total of 10.8mill a year in dividends.

    The share price and the special dividend was increasing year on year as financial performance increased.

    Now for the first 9months alone revenue stands at 245mill up by 14mill from the same 9 months a year before. The revenue for the year before ended up at 331.4mil and even with the worse competition performance this year should be around the same (less prize money earned BUT also less bonuses also)

    So as you can see revenues risen by around 50% so if we had remained a PLC and had increased revenue at the same rate but dividends had stayed the same we would be looking at 21.6mill a year in dividends. 

    And that’s not even touching on the profit figures. Wages have remained at the same % of revenue BUT other running costs have been slashed significantly as a % of revenue. If the PLC had made the same cuts that would have added further millions onto the yearly dividends. (costs including players wages accounted for 81% of revenue in 2004 but only 65% in 2011. And we know in both cases that United policy means players wages account for just under the first 50% of these figures)

    Now some will say what about the profit figure at United under the Glazers. This has been up and down mainly due to various accounting practices to write off value. These are paper deductions such as Goodwill (A company is only really worth the value of its assets but when purchasing a company you will overpay. This over payment can be written off over a period of years in the account. This is called goodwill) which actually reduce the clubs Tax liability.

    In addition the interest itself is also good for tax. While dividends are paid after tax so don’t reduce the taxable profits the interest is taken before tax so does. All this means that it keeps cash in the club that under the PLC would have gone on tax. I can’t find the post but Andy Green posted last year that these accounting practices have saved the club over 70mill during the Glazers ownership (so about 10mill a year)

    And finally it costs to be a PLC, you have admin costs, listing fees and other assorted costs that come with being a PLC.

    Now do you see why I have said the that the costs of the Glazers ownership is in reality much less than the 500mill. Every ownership type has costs and in most cases the costs for that same club in the same situation would be in the same ball park  (even most sugar daddy clubs as they are usually taking something in return. Again I will point out Everytime Abramovich  opens his cheque book to bail out Chelsea he does so in exchange for more preferential shares worth the value of his additional investment)

  35. Scott the Red says:

    Wakey – You didn’t answer my question. Are you saying that the Glazers have made no difference to the money we have been able to spend?

  36. Wakey says:

    @Dreaded Red
    Yes without the leveraged buyout the 40mill would have been used elsewhere but it’s fairly safe to say it wouldn’t have ever made itself into retained profits so wouldn’t have been available to the club to use.

    Anyone using their own money wants, no scratch that needs to see a return so  unless they think there is a short term flipping possibility they will be after dividends (or they just want a play thing to throw money at). This is where the 40mill would have ended up, dividends to the owners.

    As for the investing the 500mill, even if the owners decided they didnt want a return you will be lucky to find a bank paying a decent rate of interest these days even in the business banking sector. To invest it and get a return they would have had to look at more risky investment, investments which take the cash out of the club anyway and may make accessing it harder.

    And actually what other owners would result in does vindicate the Glazers a bit. Part of the anti glazer argument does boil down to their ownership method being bad for the club but if ultimately the situation would be roughly the same via other ownership/funding methods does that really make it all bad. Infact in some ways the Glazers is the least sneaky as its in your face rather than being hidden. Look at how much the Villa fans were praising Randy Lerner and the Red Knights even held him up as the perfect owner BUT look at the losses they are making and how much he actually takes himself

  37. Wakey says:


    Pretty much. Certainly there is no evidence that it’s actually hindered spending based on the buys we have made and the bids that have been submitted and often accepted, the evidence suggests wages are the issue which I suspect would be lower if we had stayed a PLC as they hadn’t really shown much ability to really go after the commercial revenue streams

    It’s hard to be completely sure because there are so many factors, we would need access to parallel universe to be sure as we would need to know how aggressive the PLC could/would get on the commercial side but as my figures above show even in the PLC’s best case we would likely be looking at the PLC’s costs being under 10mill a year cheaper than then Glazers and every pound of commercial revenue they missed out on would move it closer to the glazers being the cheaper option

  38. Red Devil says:


    I must commend you mate on actually taking the time out and trying to understand facts and figures before forming your opinions.

    However I will add some points for your consideration for what they are worth.

    1) Your noting that other running costs have come down significantly as a % of revenue – I dont know how much credit you can give to the Glazers for that. For instance if you simply raise ticket prices, your revenue goes up, but you arent incurring any extra running cost on those seats are you…? So automatically your running costs a % of revenue will go down. Of course there is the increase in commercial income to consider, but I’d like to believe that United had sufficient brand appeal even before the Glazers arrived to have achieved some of the commercial gains on their own.

    2) Interest is tax deductible — very true mate. But it also has transaction costs and bankruptcy risks attached to it. For instance all the fees and moneys that we have paid to investment bankers for underwriting the bond issues, roadshows, etc (amounted to almost 30-35 million in that year I remember) as well as the cost of swaps and derivatives that we needed to take to account for the volatile currency fluctuations on the interest and bond payments….all these are extra costs which would not have been if the debt had not been there
    Besides, even depreciation / player amortization is also a tax-deductible expense, if you buy a player for 40 million, you will save 20 million on taxes over the life of the contract meaning the effective cost of the player purchase is just 20m. I’d rather buy players and save tax on depreciation rather than pay interest to banks to save on taxes….wouldn’t you?

    3) All the listing fees and admin costs, etc etc – true, they are a PLC burden, but thats exactly what we are paying now as well by enaging i-bankers for roadshows and with the IPO plans, we’ll soon be paying all the listing fees and admin costs as you say anyhow just to get rid of some of the unnecessary debt…! Thats if this IPO ever gets off the ground.

    4) Dividends paid by a PLC – This is most definitely true and your points regarding dividend are valid. However, you do realize that dividend is not a compulsion. You would only have to pay in case we were successful and had extra cash and not as a matter of compulsion as we do on the interest. You need not pay dividends necessarily. There are many companies in the world that have never paid dividend and are still some of the most successful and well-run companies in the world. It is not necessary that United would have had to pay dividend at increasing rates to keep shareholders happy, because shareholders can be compensated by capital appreciation also, which would have come about if United had spent on players and been successful on the pitch. Also dividends could still have been paid in the good years if we had excess cash available and no pressing needs to buy on the pitch.

    Isn’t the IPO which the Glazers are now bringing saying exactly the same thing – No dividends to be paid!!??
    And besides, its not as if the Glazers have not been paying themselves dividends….they conveniently take out money in the form of management fees and interest free loans and in fact some of the loans to the Glazers have been converted/written off. I wouldn’t ordinarily begrudge them these payments as they are owners and have a right to return on their investment, but I bring it up just to show that we are paying dividends even now though maybe not as much as PLC.

    Finally, the risk that has been loaded onto the club. We must maintain the level of success every year in order to have the ability to service the loans. What if we cant sustain this super-normal rate of success we have had, (which we wont if we continue to under-invest and young players keep walking away from us on account of money and contract problems)

    I will say that Leverage can be a good thing if used in the right prportion, but excessive leverage can cripple even the most well-run and successful of companies and history has proved it on many an occassion.If the Glazers would have just invested a few hundred millions of their own money instaed of borrowing the entire amount in debt and PIK’s, maybe it would have been alright….who knows…

  39. Red Devil says:

    Again just to make myself clear,
    I much prefer a single ownership structure as a public company has its own botherations with regard to being open and transparent regarding deals, etc which sometimes hinders privacy and speed of action, but not at the cost that has been imposed on the club.

  40. DreadedRed says:

    “We now call on the Glazers to come back with a full flotation of Manchester United with a single class of full voting shares,” MUST chief executive Duncan Drasdo said yesterday.

    “Should they choose to do this, with no strings attached, we would support such a flotation wholeheartedly and encourage the global fan base of Manchester United to seize such an historic opportunity to secure a meaningful fan ownership stake where the priorities of the club are the same as the fans – not absentee owners.”

  41. kel says:


  42. Wakey says:

    @Red Devil

    1) Actually costs do increase with ticket price rises. Demand is price sensitive in all markets. If tickets are below the market rate like they were under the PLC then they sell themselves but increase that and you need to increase spending in the sales and marketing teams to sell them. While there is still a waiting list selling the available tickets to these people is a lot harder when it’s the more expensive seats left over and most the waiting list are only really interested in the cheaper sections.

    And they do deserve credit for bringing running costs down as its something even many of the Anti Glazers even acknowledge. The shareholders of the PLC would regularly bitch about the waste in the club and it even made up a large number of the Irish Pairs 99 questions letter. Despite being a larger, more global business under the Glazers the running costs increase.

    If rather than using a % of revenue we work out the running costs MINUS the players wages it gives a better idea. We know players wages work on a below 50% so for simplicity if we use that amount  (as we have the actual figure for Last year which was 46% but not for 2004) we get the following

    2004 -53.5mill
    2011 – 55mill

    For a company that’s expanded as much as united have including setting up and running commercial offices in London and Asia the a rise of just 1.5mill represents massive savings having been made in the operation.

    2) Scott’s Cost of the Glazers actually includes those however. They aren’t ontop of his 500mill.

    As for player amortisation again as I have said to others it’s a big assumption that we would have spent more on players under another owner. After all there is no evidence that the Glazers have stopped us buying anyone. After all look at some of the offers we hade accepted
    Silva 24mill (although Valencia backed out after accepting, just as they did around that time with Real over Villa)
    Benzema 35mill
    Villa 35mill
    Sneidjer 40mill
    Nasri 24mill
    Hazard 34mill

    Then the players we did buy who weren’t cheap, infact we often paid over the odds for the players we did buy to beat others to them. And we are currently still in for Moura and RvP (and maybe even Baines) 

    Most of them either preferred other clubs or it was a wage issue. 

    It should also be noted that the cash in bank was between 120-150mill for much of the Glazers ownership. You know as well as I do that you don’t sit on that much in the bank as an investment in this climate when interest rates are so low, they would have done what they ended up doing once it became clear SAF wasn’t going to spend  it and pay down the debt with it as rather than losing value that saves 8.5% on every bond bought back. The money was in the bank mainly to be spent on transfers, adding up-to another 40mill a season wouldn’t have helped much when there was over 120mill already

    3) Again though Scott’s figures include the fees relating to the Glazers dealings so they aren’t relevant to the discussion unless we stop talking about 500mill and instead break it down into its parts. And yes the same costs would generally come back with the IPO but then it doesn’t allow for dividends for the foreseeable future so that certainly offsets the IPO costs.

    4) Yes dividends don’t need to be paid but United hadn’t once passed on paying the Dividends and it was being paid at an increasing rate every year so evidence suggests that would have continued. And Uniteds shareholders were always fairly focused on the dividends, Rio’s 10 years anniversary is a good example as his signing saw the shareholders express serious concern about impact on their dividend. While United was a solid stock I’m not sure it was ever the best stock for simple capital appreciation so I don’t see them not ensuring that profit was enough to keep paying an ever increasing dividend in line with the revenue increase to keep them happy.

    On the management fees the PLC were also paying  these, the board can’t be 
    Paid for being board members BUT they were able to receive payment for other services/expertise they supplied to the club. So it’s not like the Glazers management fees don’t have an associated cost in the PLC structure.

    As for on field success  If anything the Glazers have made competition wins less essential as other areas have taken up the slack. Our end of year results will show a revenue that’s around 2011′s despite doing much worse on the field. 
    Obviously under a PLC they could offset that by not paying dividends but it would still ultimately have the same issue at the end of the day.

    Oh and what’s often forgotten is the Glazers did spent their own money. They purchased the first 30% with their own money and some of the takeover amount was out of their own pocket (yes relatively a small amount but still not pocket change). It’s not like their Mall businesses where each mall has such a tiny amount of their own money tied up in it, we are talking hundred of millions of their own cash  invested in the club since they bought their first shares so it’s not risk free for them.

  43. mansuy united says:

    So much meaningless speculation and conjecture that my head is spinning…

  44. Shebangsthedrums says:

    Scott – So sre you saying that you’d be happy to win the title every year? What about competition? If we won the title every year, then it would cease to be a competition, hence rendering it meaningless. it would be Boring to win it every year. We can’t claim to have a great league if it’s not competeitve. I never want United to lose, but when we do, it makes me more eager and appreciative that we win next time around. Am i the only one who was disappointed at losing the league (especially to City), but also felt proud that we competed after all the injury problems that we had and I am now even more so looking forward to the new season so we can hopefully win it back. I think it would be better now that they’ve had a taste of success only for us to snatch the title back.

  45. DreadedRed says:

    Most supporters would struggle to identify 5 United games in their life time, where we weren’t playing to win. That’s just the games, the competitions we also aim for a clean sweep in. The League is the ultimate prize, counting more than any season’s game. It is our main aim, around which all others pale. Winning the Premiership.

    I’d be happy to win the title every year.
    United usually win the Title, and it’s played a clear role in my happiness over the years.

  46. Red Devil says:


    1) Your point about ticket marketing costs is just petty and you know that too. The increased cost of marketing and brochures and campaigning to get a those few extra season tickets sold is a tiny fraction of the increase in prices.
    (I am taking 80% of season ticket holders renew themselves and extra marketing is required for the 20% only – otherwise it would fly in the face of two of your arguments,
    a) that the tickets are fairly priced – fair price in economics is where demand equals supply and if a major portion of the tickets are going unsold then its not a fair price but the Glazers are trying to extract a premium. Marketing is only required when you are trying to get a premium over the market rates – A bottle of Coke wouldn’t cost half as much if we didn’t have the ridiculous ad-spend on marketing trying to justify brand premium prices)
    b) That the cost of marketing is a large % of the price rise – if that were the case, it would be stupid trying to raise prices in the first place as it would not make economic sense and would just be like trying to squeeze the lemon for the last ounce.
    Although as I said in my post already, they have tightened up the belts, we have to give them some credit for that -but when you hear news like food expenses on staff cut at Carrington, it doesnt paint a healthy picture does it.

    2) The argument here is not whether Scotts figure includes those items – its whether those costs would be as high in a PLC without the debts – and the answer is no. This will become abundantly clear when the IPO comes about. All the costs associated with a PLC will soon be back on our books because of this IPO…so what are United left with at the end of the day – all those costs associated with the PLC that you talk about as well as the costs of the debt servicing and the burden.
    THINK man, if the costs of debt servicing weren’t so much greater than the costs of a PLC, then why the hell go for this IPO and try to deleverage in the first place – just keep rolling over the debt.
    Besides, we have moved from a 27% tax regime to a 35% tax regime in the US precisely for the IPO listing. The Glazers are so desperate to get rid of the debt, they are willing to pay a 8% higher tax…just think about it…why would they do it unless the costs of the debt burden are too high ..?

    3) Have the Glazers stopped buying United players – YES…You say those players opted to go elsewhere – In many cases they did so because of pure financial reasons. You quote a figure of 40m being accepted for Sneijder..? where do you get such figures as confirmed from?
    Besides, its not just transfer fees, salaries come into it as well and United are just not willing to match the wage demands of the players. Eg- Nasri last year…
    Remember players nowadays are mercenaries and will play wherever they get the better money – its not like they are joining some team for the love of the team. Those players could easily have joined us if we were willing to pay them the wages. Even Rooney only stayed back because we acceded to his demands, else he would have been off and you would have said, its nothing to do with the Glazers, he chose to go to another club…question is WHY? think man….

    Forget the big name players – we cant even keep hold of players like Pogba because of wage reasons – a player whom Sir Alex and Paddy Crerand have quoted as definite first team player and better than Vieira.

    4) The point on dividends – again I will repeat United would NOT HAVE to pay dividends necessarily -whatever we had paid in the past is immaterial – if the United board does not recommend a dividend in some years or if we did badly in a couple of years, then there was no necessity to pay dividends. The shareholders would have sold off the shares to someone who did not have dividend expectations, plain and simple – shares change hands all the time. If the management at the club felt that cash needed to be retained in the business for buying assets/players, they would not have recommended a dividend, or paid a low dividend – the shareholders cant force the board to pay dividends – They can change the board however, but I doubt they would have gone to that extreme as it would have led to a fall in the share prices, diminishing the value of their investments.

    Besides, The Glazers IPO is looking for precisely these kind of people isn’t it (ones who are ok with no dividend)? In fact they dont even have the carrot of Control/ownership to offer on their IPO as well their shares are likely to be highly overpriced, both as compared to the PLC….if you say that dividend payment by United PLC was such a necessity – by your logic, we should never be able to deleverage and will remain indebted forever…!

    5) You point out that the Glazers have removed our dependence on success by increasing commercial income – fair enough, they have. There is no doubting this fact. However, the point being that interest is a legal obligation. Earlier if United were unsuccessful, they would just be unable to pay dividends in a particular year which weren’t mandatory in either case. Now, the banks would just come knocking on the door and ask for the sales of players and assets which have been used to secure the bonds and interest payments…


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