During the Glazer takeover of United, the initial success of their NFL franchise, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was pointed to as how the takeover would be good for United.
Tampa, we were told, were perennial under achievers, somewhat like United in the 1980s. With Glazer calling the shots though, Tampa became Superbowl champions.
Of course, this was 2004 / 2005, and United were by no means underachievers by then. The warnings of hiked ticket prices in Tampa, coupled with their reneged promise to build a stadium using their own money, were swept under the carpet.
However, if Glazer wanted to use Tampa as a yardstick to United fans back then, he can’t object to it being used now. Which is why the following should make interesting reading.
On the website tampabay.com, John Romano of The St Petersburg Times has made the following observations;
“Today, the Glazers stand accused.
- Accused of not investing enough in their football team.
- Accused of not keeping up with the competition.
- Accused, essentially, of not caring about Buccaneer victories and losses as much as you do.”
Now, you may draw a comparison in the above with the signings of Owen, Valencia, and Obertan after the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo and release of Tevez , but on its own, that might be too speculative a conclusion to reach.
Romano goes on though;
“The Bucs spent less in player salaries and bonuses than any team in the NFL in the past five seasons. And, just like that, what you have long suspected has now been confirmed.”
Starting to ring any bells? Read on;
“These numbers could say something about a team's financial condition. They could say something about the Tampa franchise owners commitment to winning. They could say something troublesome about the future.
The problem is we have bits and pieces of evidence, yet we never get explanations from the notoriously secretive Glazer family. And in the absence of candor, we are invited to jump to conclusions.”
In a paragraph that could just as easily have been written regarding the fiscal policies at Old Trafford as of those in Tampa, Romano’s closing words draw the most accurate parallels with United;
“I can understand being conservative. I can understand shopping for value instead of flash. I can understand not wanting to put the team in a bind with too many big-money deals.
What I cannot understand is owning a cash cow of a franchise and still spending about $11 million less than the average NFL team. Not the richest team; the average team.
What I cannot understand is spending, on average, about $13.8 million less than the Saints in the NFC South in each of the past five seasons. And $13.4 million less than the Panthers. And $8.8 million less than the Falcons.
And, let's not forget, this is a team that has raised ticket prices more than a few times. The Bucs claim it is the cost of doing business and remaining competitive in the NFL, and yet they are not even trying to be competitive when it comes to player costs.
For the first time since the mid 1990s, the Bucs seem to be having trouble selling out their stadium.”
We are told the Ronaldo money would be spent, if only there was value out there. Do you still believe that after reading the above? Do you think that perhaps the combined wages of Owen, Valencia, and Obertan are any more than half of those Ronaldo and Tevez were on?
Add in the recently announced policy of only buying players that will have a good resale value, and you may reach your own conclusion; that with both of Glazer’s sporting concerns investing less than the competition in wages and player acquisition, and with season ticket renewals dropping dramatically, that financial matters are not as rosy as the spin machine would have us believe.
Unless, of course, Gill would like to tell us any different?