The recent publication of the financial results for the year to 30 June 2009 and the roadshow promoting a £500m bond issue have again highlighted United’s long-term financial situation. Unfortunately this has made me more pessimistic than ever. It’s no longer a question of IF we’ll get serious sporting problems, but WHEN.
The huge debt of around £700m remains the heart of the problem. The interest payable was £42m in the last financial year and £69m in the previous one, and on top of that family members extracted £20m in loans and “consultancy fees”. In total the Glazer take-over has cost United £325m in interest. So far.
The bond issue document makes chilling reading as it reveals that the Glazers are considering sales of assets to reduce the debt. They explicitly refer to the Carrington training ground, but this strategy might very well be extended to include Old Trafford and Wayne Rooney.
It’s a mystery how Ferguson can believe that the financial situation has little or no influence on his ability to sign and retain the best players. The most likely explanation is that he feels that his best strategy is to try and stay good friends with the owners.
Most United fans seem to accept that there will be no new signings in January, but believe that the club is prepared to spend big in the summer. I´m not so sure. My prediction is that incoming transfers in the summer will not amount to much more than we will receive from the sales of Vidic, Nani and Tosic.
In conclusion, I just can’t see how we can continue to send huge amounts of money out of the club every season and still keep up with Chelsea and City, let alone Real Madrid and Barcelona. The weakening finances will sooner or later affect our competitiveness on the field, which will in turn affect our finances. Sooner or later. Tick tock.