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What Did You Think Of Panorama?

Being honest, Panorama is not a programme I’ve ever made a habit of watching but my impressions from the few occasions I have seen it are that it was informative, detailed and for adults. Now, either Panorama has changed since the last time I watched it or they made a special exception to ‘dumb down’ for us. Christ, with all those little gnomes and childish language, I thought I was watching News Round, not a late night BBC 1 documentary!

Regardless, the programme did highlight some alarming facts, those which we were probably familiar with from the article in The Guardian and the Andersred blog.

To learn of how badly managed their situation in the USA is really should set alarm bells ringing. They’re borrowing more and more money, their malls are losing them cash and it’s hard to see, other than rinsing the fans, how they’re planning to pay off the debt. But if they’re banking on fans, they’re in trouble, with more and more reds boycotting the club. And if they’re in trouble, our club is in trouble.

What I find totally frustrating about this situation though is not just that the Glazers have totally fucked us but that they thought they could keep all their problems from us. With their puppet David Gill repeatedly claiming that there is nothing to worry about, that the masses of debt reported is a “total misconception” and that the future is bright, they knew all along just what a dreadful financial situation they were in, and therefore, what danger they were putting our club in.

So, what are our options? As season ticket holders, you can choose not to renew, lose your seat and deal with the heart ache of not going to see your precious reds. When the Glazers go, you will re-apply, along with the 50,000+ others who will also have given up their season ticket, and hope you’re one of the lucky ones. Or you renew, knowing that another £1000 (assuming you are in the ACS and manage to go to a couple of away days) of your dosh will be going in to the debt hole.

I know business and good will don’t go hand in hand, but I still can’t quite get my head around how, morally, the Glazers can do this. The money that the fans put in to the club should go to the betterment of the club, whether that’s transfer fees, wages or anything else beneficial. Manchester United .plc were ripping us off long before the Glazers came (the annually replaced kits, the Superstore, increased ticket prices they blamed on Keane’s contract etc.) but at least then we knew our money was being pumped back in to the club to help make it successful. Now, where is our money going?

Much has been made of United’s lack of transfer activity since selling Cristiano Ronaldo for a massive £80m but in reality, the club have spent half of that in the first year since his sale.

Antonio Valencia (£16m), Gabriel Obertan (£3m), Mame Biram Diouf (£3.5m), Chris Smalling (£8-10m), Javier Hernandez (£7-10m).

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a defence of the Glazers, merely recognition that the hyped up stories in the paper about our spending don’t have too much basis. But worryingly, whilst the fans are eager for money to be spent and the squad improved, we have to consider where this money is coming from. That’s £40m Fergie has spent in a year but where is it coming from?

For us to buy a world class player this summer, will United’s debt repayments have to increase? Will our price of tickets go up next summer? Yes. For United to spend money they will plunge themselves more in debt. You have to wonder how many seasons United could afford to go without winning the league or European Cup because our financial situation is rolling down the hill at the moment and it’s picking up speed.

So no, I wasn’t a big fan of being spoken to like an idiot last night, but that falls by the wayside when you realise what a dire situation we’re in. Too many fans stick their head in the sand and refuse to wake up to the reality of this. There are excuses being made left, right and centre by some. But the reality is there is no quick fix for this and the silence from the Glazers is all but confirmation that they don’t know what they’re doing. Gill can prattle on about us being in a healthy situation all he likes, the point is, they don’t have facts and figures to counter those which were mentioned last night.

Leveraged buy outs are an absolute joke and the Premier League should be ashamed. With Liverpool facing a similar struggle, this country could be without its two biggest clubs sooner or later, and for that to be down to money is sickening. We were the best run club in the world, we still make more money than any club in the world, but we are the poorest club in the world.

Of course, the Glazers stand to lose a lot of money if this all goes tits up, so it makes sense they will do everything they can to stop that happening, but what they have at stake is nothing like what we do, but our concerns matter little to them.


Andersred’s open letter to David Gill

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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  1. james21 says:

    The Panarama programme was totally a waste of time. If you like Slapstick comedy then fair enough.
    It had Fighting Knights, Gnomes, must and A leprecaun called Malcolm. I’ve speant the day laughing everytime I think about that awful programme.
    It also seams to me that the Green and Gold supporters and Must are disappointed it didn’t have the Impact that they hoped. It was very poorly written and very 1 sided. It also reminded me of the way the press print 1 sided articles about SAF and United, because like the Glazers SAF Won’t talk to them.

    @Kingeric 16:17
    I’m not giving mine up either.

    @Wakey (Mr Gill)

    Thought you two had kissed and made up. :D

  2. willierednut says:

    SAF didn’t put the club on the stock market, so how the fuck can you blame the boss?

  3. Wakey says:


    It was 99 questions wasn’t it rather than 10?

    You do have a point mind you. The pair of them did go on a campaign against SAF, only stopping short of having to buy a club they couldn’t afford and didn’t want.

    When it became clear that they weren’t going to win they started trying to get rid of their holding. Whoever bought it was going to have to launch a takeover as they would be over the limit.

    I actually wonder if
    a) The club had listended to the various shareholder concerns over missed commercial opertunities
    b) A takeover by someone else wasn’t on the cards

    If the Glazers would have even attempted the takeover or if they would have been happy taking their dividends

  4. james21 says:

    I thought SAF urged Magnier and Mcmanus to buy shares in Utd before the relationship soured.
    I thought also They sold their shares because the Fans had Told them to Fuck off because they crossed SAF. In Fergie I will always trust.
    ‘Fuck off John Magnier’ Remember. So he did. Don’t actually remember them trying to sack him but might be wrong.

  5. hetixzo says:

    no dumbing down as far as I can see. This was a documentary aimed at alerting people to the crisis in football – they weren’t preaching to the converted, it wasn’t only Man United supporters who were watching – it was a fair warning to the state of our game by highlighting the plight of the finances of the biggest fish in that pond.

    I’m fed up of reading comments by United supporters placating the Glazers – the figures don’t add up, they are taking 75 pence out of every £1 spent on United -

    give me some figures that make that ok?

  6. King Eric says:

    middyred – Blaming Fergie now. Fuck me.

  7. Wakey says:

    @King Eric

    Don’t tell him to ‘Fuck Off’ because he actually has a valid point.

    As much as people want to blame the Glazers for everything the situations alot more complex and as part of that complex situation Fergie has to be included as one of the factors in it. His part is small and unintetional but it could very well have been critical.

  8. Wakey says:

    @King Eric

    Ok just realised you said “Fuck Me” rather than “Fuck Off”. Apologies

    My point still stands however

  9. Wakey says:


    “I’m fed up of reading comments by United supporters placating the Glazers – the figures don’t add up, they are taking 75 pence out of every £1 spent on United”

    And you got that figure from where? Oh its from MUST, it must be right then? Wrong, sure the figures can be fiddled to have it show this but its been over simplified to manipulate people.

    While its true the outgoings on ‘Glazer Costs’ as MUST would label them do equal that figure HOWEVER we have to ask ourselves the following

    1) Revenues from supporters are just ONE of the revenue streams. As such why are the costs being compared to JUST the supporters revenues. If you are going to apply the costs to the revenue from supporters then you have to work out what percentage of the revenue is from supporters and then apply the same percentage to the ‘Glazer cost’ and assign them that way. It will reduce the figure significantly

    2) Linked to 1 we have to take into account what extra revenue that the Glazers have brought in. They have increased revenue significantly, more than DOUBLE what they were (And Ticket increases only account for a small percentage of this increase. Most has come from other sources. As I have said in the past the belief is that for this year that commercial activities will generate more revenue than match day).

    3) We need to understand WHAT the ‘Glazer Costs’ actually are. Many of the costs that MUST assign to the “Money the Glazers Cost United” figure don’t actually cost the club anything. Many of the costs shown in the ‘Holding Companies’ accounts are non-cash deductions and many deuductions are not on the Clubs accounts. These actually SAVE the club actual cash

    4) We need to understand how the ‘Glazer Cost’ compare to PLC costs? (or what any other owners costs would be). The Management fees existed anyway and would exists under any owner (The Shieks, Roman, Lerner etc etc all take Management fees for services rendered), Director Loans would be being paid and some Intrests payments would be made for ‘Loans’ that were used (For example to Fund transfer). You then have costs that were Unique to the PLC structure, things like Stock Market listing fees, AGM costs, Reporting Costs, Dividends (The Glazers can take Dividends now but have passed on EVERY dividend they have atm been able to take, even the last PLC dividend) and much more.

    All in all the “Cost of the Glazers” is far below what MUST want people to believe. Yes they bring costs with them BUT some of the costs aren’t really costs, they generate money that the PLC didn’t and they save money the PLC didnt (either via improving the business, not having to pay certain PLC fees or via accounting savings). So the ‘cost’ is lower when put in context and certainly the cost isn’t coming solely out of our pockets

  10. willierednut says:

    I would say Edwards is more to blame, than anyone else, he did float the club on the stock market.

  11. Triggs says:

    This has been a fantastic forum, I’m so pleased that others have doubts over what they’re being told and the spin provided by Panorama, the Guardian and MUST. I don’t fully understand the economics and it annoys me when some United fans speak as if they understand it entirely. Clearly the level of debt is concerning – but it’s not a black and white issue – there are so many different factors to consider.

    It seems to me that the Glazers are doing their best to ride out the recession. Their retail businesses are struggling in the States – but surely income on these assets can only increase once the economy picks up. The Bucs too are in debt. But United’s revenue stream (particularly commercial) is increasing.

    I posted the question earlier that if the Glazers/United were in such a perilous position – why do they not sell? Correct me if I’m wrong but the Glazers’ debts attached to United, the Bucs and Allied whatever come to less than £1.2 billion – which is what the Glazers have been offered? No one has been able to provide a significant reason why they would reject the offer if their financial position was so unstable.

    My thinking is that the only reason they don’t sell is that they expect United’ s revenue stream to further increase and they are confident they can service the debt. Basically, they think there’s still a lot of money to be made. It’s galling that they will make all this money from United, but in reality that should provide us with some optimism for United’s financial security.

    If this is the case (and I’d welcome someone with a grasp of the economics to confirm – Wakey?), the Glazers wont be going anywhere for a while. Therefore, I think our efforts should be put into getting together with other PL teams and lobbying govt./the PL/the FA to put in place measures whereby in future supporters will hold an interest in their club in order to prevent hostile takeovers/levereaged buy outs. I do not believe the fans should run the club, but if they held a “golden share” of just over 25%, it would give them a blocking stake on any change of ownership and an influential boardroom voice.

    I just don’t think we’re going to get anywhere shouting “Glazer Out” – we need to plan for the long-term.

  12. They Always Score says:


    it’s good that someone on here is putting forward an alternative view of the financial situation. I don’t suppose you’d consider providing a full explanation of all the points in layman’s terms? It’s just that I’m probably not alone in not understanding everything as I’m not from a financial background.

  13. Red Devil says:

    @ Wakey

    I think I put this into another thread as well and you accepted the logic…..I dont know why cant you accept the simplest of facts….

    GLazer costs vs PLC Costs…

    You conveniently ignore the interest costs of 50+ million plus the hedging costs and swap costs of almost 40-50 mn as well as the bond issue costs of 40-45 mn………And for the dividends you talk about, what about the management fees and cheap loans and all they’ve been taking out of the club….?


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