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.