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“Red Knights” Should Send Gill Packing

7243956“We could borrow money but it would not be good business for a football club. Borrowing large sums of money is the road to ruin.” – David Gill, August 2004.

At the recent MUST/IMUSA meeting, there were calls from some supporters for all those there to give up their season tickets and stop going to games. A response was given that 30,000+ have already given up their season tickets but their seats are still being filled. If we want to stop the Glazers, surely it is better for us to have people who love the club inside the ground, able to make these protests which are visible to the world, increasing the pressure.

Some might have seen David Gill in the same way, believing that it is better for him to be inside United and able to help make decisions than to resign from the Glazer regime in protest.

If you had hope that was the case, then you will be sorely disappointed.

“I would appeal to the fans to be sensible and get behind the team,” he said yesteday. “We are a very well-run club and given what’s happening at other clubs, people should be proud of what’s happening at Manchester United. It [a protest] serves no purpose and it won’t change a thing. [Milan] will be a tough game and we can’t afford for the fans not to be there. Let’s not have ridiculous protests of that nature.”

Ridiculous protests? This is our fucking club being dragged in to the ground, that is what is ridiculous. Defending an ownership which has taken us over £700m in debt is ridiculous. Where does Gill get off patronising us like that?

He can go fuck himself and hope whenever we get out of this mess, he is sent packing.

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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.

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280 Comments

  1. libero99 says:

    Wakey,

    The £43 interest figure is part of a new set of commitments established just days ago. How does that affect, in any way, the figures for the last 5 years?

    For the last 4-5 years we have been paying interest on one part of our debt from a refinancing we did in 06, borrowing 500mil from the banks.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Glazer_takeover_of_Manchester_United

    It says interest repayments of £62mil per year in here, so maybe I am not 100% right with this figure, but very close. My percentages are still more or less correct though as I estimated on the low side.

    Look at the Refinancing section – that confirms what I say. I could find further documentation but I would be wasting my time proving established facts.

  2. AlphaRS says:

    @libero99

    Thank you.
    Using the Harvard referencing system would make me happier still!

  3. Wakey says:

    @libero99

    “The £43 interest figure is part of a new set of commitments established just days ago. How does that affect, in any way, the figures for the last 5 years?”

    For 2 reasons

    1) Its the amount that was mentioned as the cost of servicing the debt for the year by the club
    2) The press release for the Bond issue stated that the cost to service the debt under the bond issue didn’t change

  4. libero99 says:

    Wakey Said,February 3rd, 2010 @13:48

    Please provide references to confirm this.
    I’ll accept you pasting the words from the bond prospectus.

    We are in the middle of a financial year, so maybe there is some creative accounting going on, or more likely just some slight, but perfectly legal “re-categorisation”.

    But, how can the interest on a new loan, only arranged in the last 2 weeks be counted as a cost for us in the 5 years previous to the loan? It makes no sense.

  5. Wakey says:

    @libero99

    “This can be said of any consortium. And they would be stakeholders, would they want to be involved in the daily running of the club? Unlikely”

    Hicks and Gillette have a board and Chief Exec but they still interfere. And the difference here is these people are supposed to be fans, that makes it harder to not interfere as emotions come into play.

    “Don’t we have multiple Glazers on the board now? ”
    They are in Non-Exec roles I believe so its Malcoms decision alone really. Although it seems from what Gill says that Joel is the Point of contact who makes the decisions on Malcoms behalf

  6. Wakey says:

    @libero99

    “But, how can the interest on a new loan, only arranged in the last 2 weeks be counted as a cost for us in the 5 years previous to the loan? It makes no sense.”

    I don’t think I made myself clear with point 1

    “The figure for the year up to 30 June 2009 includes the record £80m fee received from Real Madrid for the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo and also £41.9m paid out in interest on a huge loan of £509.5m.” [1]

    Thats the holding companies accounts which aren’t exactly the same as the clubs accounts BUT the figures for the interest payment are around the same as they were in the Club accounts that were published last summer (Trying to find a link but I don’t have the time to trawl 200 pages of Google)

    [1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jan/11/manchester-united-profits-cristiano-ronaldo

  7. libero99 says:

    Wakey

    “Hicks and Gillette have a board and Chief Exec but they still interfere. And the difference here is these people are supposed to be fans, that makes it harder to not interfere as emotions come into play.”

    Granted, they do seem to intefere but we don’t really know for sure. When your manager criticises you (his boss) in public, rather crassly to win fan favour, I don’t blame them for interfering!

    But, they are Americans – they do not understand football (even if they do understand other sports) so they are still learning, and they have been much more silent recently it seems. They also lied – the Glazers have promised us nothing, and they have certainly delivered (the on field success was down to the playing/coaching staff and no one else, before you counter!)

    Our potential investors have seen it all go wrong at United and other clubs, and all go right, so they should have much more of an idea than the mob at LFC. They have several examples of what to avoid when running a club, and one or two clubs that can provide some basis or foundation for leadership (Barca, Exeter – a club I know a lot about as I know their Finance Director) Idealistic? maybe…but I really think we in as bad a position as possible now. (I dread to think what happens when SAF can’t hold it all together on the field and we have no transfer funds)

    We will never get any detailed guarantees from any potential owner on how they intend to manage the club – it just won’t happen and we have to accept it really. Not possible to commit to every eventuality…not worth trying. Even a fan’s group can’t do this, but they can publish and follow core principles, like many modern business do.

  8. libero99 says:

    Wakey

    “The club has a profit of 90mill on its books from a turnover of 250mill and thats after the debts serviced and the Glazers have had their ‘Management Fees’ paid”

    Are you sure?

    1) “Pre-tax profits rose from £60m to £66m in 2008″
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c9d95d46-25c2-11de-be57-00144feabdc0.html

    “UNITED have made a world record operating profit for a football club, according to the latest figures announced.The Premier League

    champions made £71.8m for the season 2007-8 to put them at the top of the money tree globally”

    http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/manchester_united/s/1118833_record_profit_for_united

    Just some confirmation of the levels of profit we have been making. The debt interest payments of £62mil are detailed above. Add in

    10mil for fees, and that is undoubtedly 75-100% of our profits being taken out of the club.

    2) 90mil profit AFTER debts have been paid? Are you really sure?

    I quote ” In 2006–07, the club’s profit was wiped out by the eye-watering interest, £81m, payable on the Glazers’ loans; this time the

    interest will certainly be higher, but there may even be a little profit left over.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2009/mar/25/manchester-united-debt-glazers-david-conn

  9. libero99 says:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2005/06/08/1387352.htm

    They are all on the board, so legally (I think) they all have to be consulted.

    And isn’t Malcolm ill? (I really don’t know as I’m not making any of this personal so don’t check on them other than in a professional context!) So he can’t make decisions at the moment.

    I heard it was Avram who actually had final say in lieu of his father’s influence.

    It seems no one but them really know who runs the club. I understand this is their right, but the lack of transparency is alarming when all you want is the club to be carefully, and respectfully managed.

  10. Wakey says:

    @AlphaRS

    Obviously not qualifying would have an impact but it shouldn’t be enough to bring the club to its knees. The lost revenue wouldn’t wipe out the profits alone and the club has £140mill in its account which it can fall back on.

    We aren’t in a Leeds situation where to make a profit we NEED to qualify and have no Cash reserve (Or like Chelsea and City where qualifying still wouldn’t turn a profit). Liverpool mind you are in a Leeds situation. They struggle to make a profit as it is but with the early CL exit and looking to struggle to qualify this season they are looking like making a major loss. And their borrowing was so much more risky and expensive than the Glazers

  11. libero99 says:

    Wakey Said,February 3rd, 2010 @14:15

    Yep – I misunderstood sorry about that! (So many debt vehicles, so little recent education)

    So the interest for last year (on that original 500m loan) was at 42mil.
    The previous years it was higher because the interest rate was higher – I have posted more confirmation of this but it is pending moderation…(too many links?)

    But that specifc debt commitment as up to 60-80mil per year in previous years, as I said originally (and confirmed by David Conn). Happy to say I got it wrong for last year though. But still, 42m + 10m (fees) is 52mil from a profit of around 80 – that is still 65% approx, which is way higher than the 10% paid out as dividends to PLC shareholders, which was your original assertion.

  12. libero99 says:

    Wakey

    It seems to me that the £140mil in the bank is being saved to pay of the PIKs when they need to be paid. (This is scheduled for 2013 but I think can be paid off early.) That is what I would do in their position.

    If we don’t save or find close to £300mil by 2013, how will we pay for these?

    Now the new bond is in place, they are no longer bound by the terms of their 2006 (secured) 500mil loan, which means they can shuffle money around their holding companies perfectly legally, and save up for the next big repayment.

    That is why the club have arranged a £75 mil credit facility (like an overdraft), which will be only used if needed. Why would we need this, if we have £140mil in the bank “to fall back on”? It seems totally unnecessary unless the £140mil is already earmarked for something else.

  13. libero99 says:

    Trying to get this past the moderator by stripping the URL prefixes….

    Wakey – “Pre-tax profits rose from £60m to £66m in 2008″
    ft.com/cms/s/0/c9d95d46-25c2-11de-be57-00144feabdc0.html

    “UNITED have made a world record operating profit for a football club, according to the latest figures announced.The Premier League

    champions made £71.8m for the season 2007-8 to put them at the top of the money tree globally”

    manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/manchester_united/s/1118833_record_profit_for_united

    Just some confirmation of the levels of profit we have been making. The debt interest payments of £62mil are detailed above. Add in

    10mil for fees, and that is undoubtedly 75-100% of our profits being taken out of the club.

  14. AlphaRS says:

    @Wakey
    Manchester United not qualifying for the Champions League would obviously mean no money for entering that competition.
    It would also mean a drop in revenue from shirt sales, merchandising, future sposorship deals, et cetera.
    Anyhow I was saying that United have no choice but to make interest payments of between 75% – 100% of profits regardless of whether they qualify for the Champions League or not. If United were a plc they would have a choice as to whether to pay dividends to shareholders or not which was 10%. My whole isssue with the Glazers owning the club is I believe the money spent servicing debt would be better spent investing the in club and players to ensure we remain competitive as a football team.

  15. Red Devil says:

    @ libero99 Said,February 3rd, 2010 @14:52

    ” if we have £140mil in the bank “to fall back on”? It seems totally unnecessary unless the £140mil is already earmarked for something else.”

    Very good point mate….Factual evidence indicates something entirely different to what David Gill has been trying to let on that we’ve lots of cash in the bank accounts.

  16. libero99 says:

    Red Devil,

    To be clear – what Gill said was factually and legally 100% correct – but of course he is deliberately only telling half the story. That money is in the bank account. Or at least it was on the day he said it.

    Is it there now? Very unlikely – the bond issue allows them to move it out of United’s bank account and into the Glazer holding company bank account.
    I’m sure they’ve done this already – most likely that money will never return to the club. Why would it? Who knows where it is? They cover everything up to avoid these surges in outrage.

    Every time they release some financial figures (maybe twice a year if you are lucky) they are terrified. Their dirty secrets are exposed, if you can understand what they are up to, and it is hard.

  17. Paul H says:

    There will come a point in time where some or all of the cash on the balance sheet is used to offset the debt.

    I believe that this will only happen when SAF confirms that he is satisfied with the strength and depth of his playing squad.

    In business terms, this is absolutely the right thing to do. If you translate it to a personal finance situation, why would you keep £10k in the bank doing nothing, if you had a £10k credit card debt?

    AlphaRS, you mentioned your preference for investment in the club rather than debt, something we all support. If the squad, stadium, scouting network and training facilities are all first class, where would you propose Manchester United invest? I’ve given consideration to redevelopment of the South stand over the last couple of years, but genuinely believe in the current economic climate, stadium development wouldn’t have a valid business case.

    In any case, when the cash is diverted into debt repayment, which will probably happen after the post World Cup Summer transfer window, inevitably some supporters will be aggrieved because we didn’t pay 3x the going rate for someone we probably didn’t need anyway.

  18. Paul H says:

    offset should say repay – my bad.

  19. libero99 says:

    Paul –

    For many, this is not about who we sign next summer. SAF has fulfilled my footballing dreams already – this is about principle and exploitation.

    how about investing in the community? Local youth education and football development programs.

    How about supporting charity and maybe having the logo Christie’s hospital on the away shirt? (Rather than another dodgy financial institution awash with unearned money??)

    How about offering a more equitable amount of the collective TV deal as a gesture of good will and mutualism to the rest of the league, and lower down?

    How about reducing/ not increasing ticket prices?

    How about offering 1-2k seats to kids for a few quid?

    I believe that United (who claim to be the best club in the world) should be able, and should want to do ALL of these things.

    I may be an idealist, but that is what football is about – dreams. Not the cold harsh reality of big business, which is a game rigged to ensure those with power and money maintain and strengthen their positions.

  20. AlphaRS says:

    @libero99
    This isn’t funny anymore….

  21. yergen says:

    @libero99

    I thought this thread was dead but you’ve prevented that nicely. :)

    You’ve misunderstood some of the things I’ve said. I don’t doubt the fact that possible investors can get the cash needed from selling their assets. My point is rather that this will probably undermine their total standing to a level that they will prefer to use debt as well. This debt can then be secured against either their own assets or against the club. The cash flow from the club will still have to service this debt.

    If they do use their own equity, without any leverage, and still don’t want anything back, they are actually paying a yearly fee equivalent to the expected return on their investment in the club. This is not likely, but of course it’s possible.

    If they prefer to reinvest all of the profits, i.e no dividends, and wait for the value of the club to increase, then the yearly increase in value must be equal to the expected return they had on their former assets. If not, they are at a loss.

    Let’s assume that the expected return is around 10 % (this is probably a little bit low, but for the sake of the argument) and the purchase price is 1.2 billion. This means that the increase in value is 120 million the first year, 132 million the next year (10 % of 1.32 billion), 145.2 million the third year (10 % of 1.452 billion) and so on. In 10 years the value would have to be in excess of 3.1 billion. You tell me if this is plausible. I remind you, this is only to keep investors at no loss, if they decide not to leverage the buy out.

    Also, you need to factor in the tax effect of dividends vs interest payments. If you want to pay 150 million in interest, that does not require you to pay any tax. You just need to have an operating profit of 150 million. Then your pre tax profit is 0, and you don’t have to pay any company tax.

    If you instead want to pay a 150 million in dividends, this will require you (over time) to have a pre tax profit of 150 million + the tax you paid on you pre tax profit. If the tax rate is 30 % this means roughly 214 million in pre tax profit (150/(1-tax rate)).

    But the most important question is what impact a totally philantropic group of owners will have on the club. I think Wakey’s analysis/worries are correct. Both operationally and financially, I believe it would be a disaster and drag our club to the ground. Politically, it’s impossible to keep everyone happy, especially when there are no profits involved.

  22. Aj says:

    get off david gills back ok.

    he knows the finances, not the media.

    you can back the protests to get out the glazers, but leave gill out of it as the problems are not down to him, but the glazers lack of putting money in or repaying the debt years ago when they could of.

    now i admt i welcomed the glazers, but whiles i have no beef, i have no problems with other wanting them out and i would wlcome new owners myself if it went down like that.

  23. libero99 says:

    Aj

    Gill has done an about turn, and for that he loses respect from many. But he is just doing his job and he has a family, mortgage etc. And we have to remember he doesn’t really love the club – for him this is his career, and his personal wealth at stake. Principle does not come into it, we have to accept it. I’m not defending him but just trying to understand his position.

    I would say that any aggressive words or actions towards Gill, SAF or the Glazers actually harms our cause. I don’t want MUST/IMUSA or any fan taking militant or criminal action, as it really weakens our position.

  24. libero99 says:

    yergen Said,February 4th, 2010 @12:57

    I can be like a dog with a bone sometimes. You may have guessed, and I apologise in advance!

    I didn’t really misunderstand – my reply just focused on the aspects I disagreed with.

    I agree with most of what you say in your last post, but maybe not your perspective.

    I am hoping (deluded? maybe) that these potential investors do not see it purely as a financial investment. That is the value prop for fans investors – the prestige of owning United, the chance to influence it’s direction and rescue it from it’s perilous financial position. So it is not a normal investment, and I believe they would not demand “normal” returns.
    With that motivation they will not expect 10% return annually. Would they undermine their existing investments to do it? Again I’m hoping they might. May they want to carry over some debt? Quite possibly, as the total value of the debt we have had loaded on us is truly staggering.

    Some others factors to consider are that sports clubs are well insulated against recessions (because of the loyalty of the fans…sorry customers), so at the moment many would consider it a good investment.
    As for 10% annually, how many investors have averaged that over the last 2 years? Maybe the last year, but the year before when markets across the globe lost up to 0% of their value?

  25. Wakey says:

    @libero99

    First of all I’m willing to concede the possability that profits were lower than £90mill. Although your figures do seem to be for the season before last and show £72mill profit . I was sure it said £90mill but I was recalling it off the top of my head and its possible I am recalling a 90 when it was actually 70 or 80

    However your interest figures are wrong. Go back to

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jan/11/manchester-united-profits-cristiano-ronaldo

    and look at the bottom where they give the 2 year breakdown of the key figures shown in the accounts. 2009 was £41mill and 2008 £45mill. I think what alot of the reports are doing is taking what the Bank loan rates are and then adding the know PIK rate interest ontop to get their figures.

    This is actually wrong to do. The PIK’s are in the Glazers name and the club before the bond issue hadn’t actually made a ‘direct payment’ towards servicing these (Its possible the Loans and the Managment Fees may have partly gone towards them) instead they have been using the money they have been earning via the other assets which they choose not to sell off to service them.(PIK loan interesr is around £20mill a season)

    The bond issue does give them £70mill which are apparently going to pay off a chunk of the PIK loans. This saves them around £9mill a season which I would assume will go on recucing the PIK loans further.

    As for the £10mill in fees, your refering to the Management Fees right? In which case your figures are wrong there too. The management fees are £10mill ACROSS the whole ownership period. Its more like £2mill a season.

    And again you need to remember that the PROFIT figures are after all costs except tax. So if the interesr payments were 40mill and profits were 40mill this isn’t the interest eating up 100% of the profits. Its them eating up 50% of the profits (as the profits without the interest would have been $80mill). So using the figures of 72mill profit and 42mill interest you have a profit of £114mill before intrest payments. Run the figures and that comes out as 36% of profits go on Intrest payments.

    As for why we have a 75mill overdraft if theres 140mill in the bank. I don’t believe the overdraft is actually anything new, it was there as the PLC and when the Glazers took over. It was just renegotiated as part of the bond issue to bring it more in line with modern ‘Transfer fees’. The overdraft conditions are by all account pretty good for the club so its no doubt there for cash flow reasons.Gill says that the £140mill isn’t fully available to be spent on transfers (Theres more than the £80mill from Ronaldo though) so obviously some of its an ‘Emergency fund’

    On the board, there is a difference between how involved a Exec board member and a non exec. The non exec have a lot broader role when it comes to their concern so don’t need to be consulted on everything. And when its a ‘Family’ Business like this is setup tbh its largely meaningless anyway.

  26. Wakey says:

    @libero99

    United do alot of work in the local community and for charity. To do anymore and remain competitive we would either need a Sugar Daddy or be like Barca and elect a president who had to invest hundreds of millions for the privilege.

    And why on earth would we give other teams part of our TV revenue and hinder our ability to compete with the likes of City. And match day revenues are one of the main sources of income for the club so the problem with reducing these is again it reduces our ability to compete.

    Thats the problem it is idealistic and in modern football the money means you can’t be competitive and be idealistic.

  27. yergen says:

    @libero99

    Just to further elaborate on the overdraft facility. If we have 140 million in the bank and spend 100 million on players it’s good to have the overdraft. Moreover, there is an off season as well, where we have little inbound cash flow. If we want to spend then, we still have the operation running and a lot of outgoing payments. Therefore, credit can be useful. It would be very surprising if United didn’t have one.

    Good cash management (in theory) is when you have just enough cash in your bank account to get you through the day. For emergencies, you have an overdraft/credit facility. There is no point in having a lot of cash in the bank where it doesn’t work for you.

    I believe they are sincere in being ready to spend on players if there are alternatives, which is why they keep the cash.

    When discussing ownership I would, of course, prefer the benevolent owner/patriarch that did everything for the club and asked for nothing in return. The problem is we need to be as successful financially as we are on the pitch to be able to compete in the long run. I don’t think a philanthropist can do that.

    When looking at the current examples we have (the ones you’ve already mentioned) they seem to run clubs with an operating loss. This is a much worse situation and not a sustainable way of doing things. If Abramovich leaves, Chelsea would be in a disastrous situation.

    Furthermore, the political situation of a joint venture, either with millions of fans or a group of Red Knight investors, is impossible, from the examples we have from other clubs.

    In conclusion, even if I would want fans or strong philanthropists to own the club, it is not feasible and I don’t think it’s in the club’s best interest.

  28. manc says:

    gill and paddy crerand are muppets

  29. MARTIN says:

    Gill’s words today showed that he is beyond redemption, contempt, and have shown him to be the self serving lapdog he is and always has been…

    This lackey claimed he ‘didn’t know how 40 wealthy people running United would work’? Well it has got to be better than a bunch of American carpetbaggers with no money, hasn’t it? ‘We’re happy that the club is being run the right way’??!! Happy?!! The fans certainly aren’t… But since when did Gill ever care about us?

    His sneering remarks about Keith Harris were also well out of order… It would be wonderfully ironic if sometime in the future Gill had to crawl to Harris to keep his job….

    Gill is a self serving, money grabbing lapdog… And I can tell you now exactly what he would say if the Red Knights are successfull and the Glazers removed: Gill would grin that smarmy grin, and say ‘I was with you all along!’ Anything to save his miserable neck and his huge paycheque…
    Well, Gill, you had one last chance to stand with the fans of MUFC today, and you spat in our faces…. Go to Hell with your debt riddled paymasters, Judas!

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