In June 2008 this site published an Open Letter to Sir Alex Ferguson
In it we implored him to cease commenting on the perilous state of financial affairs at Old Trafford, and stop trying to convince anyone that everything was okay.
It’s unlikely of course that our letter ever reached his attention, and even if it did, it would no doubt have bounced off his blinkers rapidly.
Which is a shame, because Sir Alex’s comments of last week – that the debt situation at United has no bearing whatsoever on transfer dealings - looks even sadder in light of today’s financial results.
It was always difficult to believe that the problem with buying players last summer was ‘good value’, when you bear in mind that the £80m received for Ronaldo did as much as anything else to set the level of price in that transfer window.
We also cannot recall ‘good value’ being the immediate reaction when the signings of players such as Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney were financed from a debt free PLC. A PLC that for all its faults managed significant net outlays on players rather than the zero outlay we see under the Glazers.
The timing of Sir Alex’s latest comments though is the most interesting of all. He simply could not have been aware of the fact that without Ronaldos' sale, United would have lost over £30m in the latest accounts, made available only days after his ‘I have got money to spend, honest’ statement. He had clearly been kept in the dark about how bad the situation is, much as we the supporters were.
Why else would the Glazers have given up trying to refinance their crippling debt – and there is no doubt any more that that is what it is – and instead launch a risky bond issue initiative? A bond issue that, if 100% successful, could save £30m a year according to analysts. Or, in other words, barely enough to pay the bill for the last failed refinancing attempt. Was that ‘value’, you have to ask yourself? Good luck to the salesmen on this bond issue as well. We doubt that part of their sales pitch will be:
Look, we tried refinancing, but the banks weren’t having it. So, here is a business, that has had the most successful 3 years in its history, with a bigger ground, huge increases in ticket prices, more sponsorship money than ever before, and even then, but for selling its best asset for a world record fee, would have lost £30m. How much shall we put you down for?
But those are facts that any potential investor will know anyway
With the team out of the FA Cup, and given the under investment in the squad, seemingly unlikely to retain the league title or get to the Champions League final, income is only going to go backwards.
Whatever happens, the next 2 years will see unprecedented change at United, with older players and the manager retiring, a new sponsor name on the shirts, and doubtless more excessive ticket price rises. Lets hope for a change of owner as well, and that the new owner isn’t another parasitic leech.
Phil Townsend - All is Fine
Any investor may also wish to note Phil Townsend 'all is fine' statement last week that proclaimed 'all 55,000 season tickets are sold'. Bit of a faux pas that, as the previous published accounts of June 2007 stated 'record season ticket sales of 64,500', achieved on the back of opening the quadrants.