View that Glazers are perfect gaining worrying currency
HereÃ¢ÂÂs an extract from an interview with the award winning journalist Martin Samuel from the current edition of United We Stand.
Ã¢ÂÂI accept all the issues that people have with the Glazers, but the football has been superb while they have been in charge. They have said: Ã¢ÂÂWhatever the Scottish bloke wants, just say yes,Ã¢ÂÂ ItÃ¢ÂÂs not a bad way to run a football club because he knows whatÃ¢ÂÂs best. Whatever Fergie wants, they do. I like that.Ã¢ÂÂ
But the clubÃ¢ÂÂs ÃÂ£645 million in debtÃ¢ÂÂ¦
Ã¢ÂÂAnd? ThatÃ¢ÂÂs business. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs for the boardroom. Are we transforming into a new breed of football fans who want to look at balance sheets? What are we, accountants?
"Some fans wander around saying Ã¢ÂÂPremier League survival is more important than the FA Cup.Ã¢ÂÂ ItÃ¢ÂÂs not. Winning the FA Cup is the best thing that can happen to a fan.
"I remember the 1975 FA Cup final and the 1980 final better than any other moment as a West Ham fan. Do people look back in 30 years and say: Ã¢ÂÂRemember that season when we came 15th, that was a season and a half.Ã¢ÂÂ Or do they say, Ã¢ÂÂRemember when we won the FA Cup?Ã¢ÂÂ Nobody cheers a balance sheet or puts it on an open top bus.
"ThereÃ¢ÂÂs no prospect of United becoming Leeds United so why the worry? YouÃ¢ÂÂve just won the f*cking European Cup and the league.
"WeÃ¢ÂÂve got a bloke at West Ham who had money and now it seems that heÃ¢ÂÂs potless. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs the way the cookie crumbles. What am I going to do, support a different club? I cheer the team and boo the team, thatÃ¢ÂÂs what supporters do.Ã¢ÂÂ
Bryan, Avram and Joel observe
I like Samuel and heÃ¢ÂÂs a superb writer. But I donÃ¢ÂÂt agree with him.
Despite recent pieces by David Conn, Des Kelly and Henry Winter pointing out the contrary, the view about the Glazers being the perfect owners is gaining worrying currency, as much among United fans as outsiders.
90 percent of match going United fans have no interest in the owners of the club. As long as the team are winning, nothing else matters. That figure is close to 100 percent among the millions around the world who donÃ¢ÂÂt go to matches.
Of those who are more interested, thereÃ¢ÂÂs swelling opinion that the debt is not an issue, itÃ¢ÂÂs just the way business works. And if you donÃ¢ÂÂt like the ticket prices, tough, thereÃ¢ÂÂll always be someone else to take your place.
Well weÃ¢ÂÂll see, but IÃ¢ÂÂm not convinced.
I spoke to the former chief executive of a major bank recently. HeÃ¢ÂÂs a football fan and I wanted his view.
Ã¢ÂÂThey (the Glazers) have done nothing wrong,Ã¢ÂÂ he said. Ã¢ÂÂWhat they did happens in business all the time. What matters is their ability to pay the loans and they are doing that.Ã¢ÂÂ
The conversation depressed me, yet there are plenty who shrug their shoulders and say: Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs Manchester United, weÃ¢ÂÂll be alright.Ã¢ÂÂ
Maybe United will, but the clubÃ¢ÂÂs holding company recently posted an annual pre-tax loss of ÃÂ£44.8 million, that after the most successful financial season in the clubÃ¢ÂÂs history.
Rising ticket prices, commercial deals, on the field success and television money all helped UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs turnover to a massive ÃÂ£256m, yet the club are sitting on a rising debt of ÃÂ£699m.
Before the repayments, United made ÃÂ£66m, but that was wiped out by the interest payments and unless the club refinance, United have to pay back ÃÂ£1.1 billion in the next nine years.
Under the current lending terms, thatÃ¢ÂÂs ÃÂ£75m in 2013, ÃÂ£150m in 2014, ÃÂ£150m in 2015, ÃÂ£150m in 2016 and a final payment of ÃÂ£600m in 2017.
Opinion remains very much split
You wonÃ¢ÂÂt find any dissenting voices from those within the club. If fact you wonÃ¢ÂÂt find any because United have refused to comment on the latest figures to journalists.
The Glazers too have refused to do interviews in the four years since they took over the club. They have a public relations man on the payroll who is based in England. What, exactly, does he do about from say Ã¢ÂÂno commentÃ¢ÂÂ?
Sir Alex Ferguson has described them as Ã¢ÂÂterrific ownersÃ¢ÂÂ and that, sadly, is good enough for most fans. His justification was based on a lack of interference and the fact that compared to the abomination that is Hicks and Gillett at Anfield, the Glazers could be worse.
Last summer, I received a text. It was from someone who was about to meet one of the Glazers. Was there anything that IÃ¢ÂÂd like to pass on to that particular brother? There was and it was very strongly worded.
Ã¢ÂÂConsider it done,Ã¢ÂÂ came the reply. I never heard any more.
The Glazers were not needed any more than they were wanted. United were the most profitable club in the world, respected for their commercial acumen and virtually peerless on and off the field.
They will probably re-finance until they sell Manchester United for profit, having maintained the increase in revenues which attracted them in the first place.
Except debt, theyÃ¢ÂÂve added absolutely nothing to Manchester United and taken much away. And if they get away with it, theyÃ¢ÂÂll have one person to thank above all others. And heÃ¢ÂÂs from a lot closer to Mount Florida than Florida.