Bond issue costs United £54 million

LONDON - Manchester United's controversial bond issue has cost the Premier League champions 54 million pounds, reported The Sunday Times.

As part of the 500 million pounds in funds raised by United last week, the club had to pay 15 million pounds in fees and expenses to investment bankers and lawyers, the newspaper said.

The club had also taken a 39 million pounds hit from the unwinding of interest rate hedging arrangements on the debt that has been refinanced by the bond, The Sunday Times added.

Although the Glazer family, the American leisure tycoons who bought the club in 2005, have managed to defer payment of some liability, the club is still paying 11 million pounds of it up front, the newspaper report added.

No one was immediately available for comment at Manchester United.

News that the bond issue has cost United so much will further upset fan groups after it emerged last week the club is saddled with rising debt partly due to high interest payments.

Debts at parent company Red Football Joint Ventures Limited hit 716.5 million pounds in the year to June 2009, its accounts showed. Net interest for the period was 68.5 million pounds.

On Saturday supporters demonstrated outside Old Trafford before the 4-0 Premier League victory over Hull City that saw United regain top spot in the standings. Fans were chanting "Glazers Out" even after Wayne Rooney opened the scoring.


United manager Alex Ferguson used his programme notes to appeal for unity in the face of the financial pressures facing the club and the opposition from fans to the Glazers.

"The family of Manchester United is under pressure as a result of all the issues and controversies surrounding the ownership and financial situation of our club that have been stirred up in the media," Ferguson wrote.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion and to express their disapproval if they don't like what they see around them, just as it has always been the right of fans to let it be known if they are not happy with the way their team are playing.

"I'm not slow to express disapproval myself if there is something I don't agree with, even in the boardroom with the directors, but once I walk out of the meeting I get on with my job as manager of the team."

Ferguson recognised there was discontent among some fans but stressed the importance of maintaining focus.

"Some of our fans are clearly unhappy with the financial position but we mustn't allow the situation to become divisive," Ferguson added in the notes that were also published on the club's official website.

"The danger... is that we could be presented as being split, which would be harmful and inaccurate because I believe the vast majority of United fans are behind us and appreciate the importance of standing together in support of the team.

"I could see our opponents rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of watching us fall out among ourselves if we don't all think carefully about what we are doing.

"We must not lose our focus, which from where I stand is about building a strong football team that will win trophies. That's what we are about, or at least should be.