Another week goes by and continued speculation about a Qatari takeover of United comes along, with various “sources” saying a bid is being lined up and, with or without the help of the Red Knights, that they are hopeful of being able to secure one of the greatest assets in world football.
Such a takeover would certainly put them on the world stage with a great chance of doing a world of good for their popularity at a time when they have struggled to quell the continued criticism of them being handed the World Cup, and delving into football ownership coupled with the shirt sponsorship of Barcelona would be a worthy attempt at casting the lingering doubts to the back of people’s minds. Of course, it is not simply a case of flexing their financial muscle, but rather the actions that then follow.
Let’s consider a scenario where they did takeover Manchester United. For them to be taken seriously by the fans, they would have to prove that they were not merely seeking Old Trafford to be a glorified piggy bank, but instead show some transparency with the fans that the Glazers never did. Putting the fans first before the financial results would go a long way to securing some popularity.
In truth if such a thing were to take place, given the strength of United’s revenues, transfer funds may not need to come from the new owner’s pockets. However, all of this is simply theorising, and the reason I mention it is because of the release of the latest set of financial records by the Glazer family.
The most significant aspect of these financial results was the statement from the board: “The Board notes recent press speculation regarding a possible bid for Manchester United. The Owners remain fully committed to their long-term ownership of the club… Manchester United is not for sale and the Owners will not entertain any offers.”
Quite what we should make of this is unclear. There have been plenty of statements before rejecting takeover speculation and reiterating the Glazers’ commitment to United ownership for the forseeable future, but an official board statement suggests that there may be more substance to the rumours than originally thought.
Of course, for all we know there could well be negotiations going on at present, given the complete lack of transparency with the club’s dealings, it would not be at all surprising if the board themselves in part were left in the dark about a possible sale. But when we look deeper into the matter, it becomes clear that a truly ridiculous offer, far beyond the quoted asking price would be needed to prise away their main asset. Given the failings of their main businesses back in the US and the lacklustre performance of their NFL franchise, it is not hard tos ee why they are so keen to keep hold of United especially as financially it appears United is still going strong and continuing to improve.
The main headlines to be drawn is that revenues are up across the board, there has been a marginal improvement in profits before any deductions and the cash balance currently tied to the club is in the region of £134 million as well as a reduction in the overall debt that is tying the club down. Of course to some, this will look fairly strong, any improvements year on year with a high level of revenue is bound to be seen as favourable, but when this applies to the world of football, there could well be ramifications.
United fans will doubtless counter these results with the fact that there simply has not been real investment in the squad at the club and a continued citing of a “lack of value” and the truth of the matter is, revenue and profits in football mean nothing if it is not invested back in the team and allowed to bring continued success. This is the fear of many fans, and it would be fair to say a realistic one at that. In the short term we may be hearing reassuring noises from the board but one must wonder how long it will be before the team goes on a decline.
Of course, some doubts may be pushed aside if significant funds are made available and improvements to a squad that is not considered among the best of Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure are made. As well as this, the situation would be made a lot clearer if we are informed how the Payment In Kind notes were paid off and what effect this will have had on interest payments and on the ability of the club to make a profit.
However, the one conclusion I have come to in this is that, for now, the the Glazers are here to stay. As mentioned before, the club is performing too strongly as an asset for them to entertain many offers, especially as the issues regarding their other dealings Stateside continue to falter in the midst of a recession.
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