Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Archive for March, 2010

Glazers have learned nothing from PR genius

Posted by hakanrylander on March 12, 2010

David Beckham was a great footballer, but he’s an even greater PR genius. By wearing a green and gold scarf when leaving the Old Trafford pitch on Wednesday he sent a strong signal around the world of his support for the movement trying to get rid of the Glazers, even if he later claimed that the scarf had no other significance than the traditional colours of Newton Heath.

Compare this to the public relations disaster masterminded by the Glazer family and/or David Gill. To convince fans that their reign has a positive influence on the development of Manchester United they’ve banned players from discussing the issue in the media, forbidden MUTV from refering to the protests, edited questions about it from broadcasts of Ferguson’s press conferences, ejected a supporter from the audience of an MUTV show after he refused to remove a green-and-gold scarf as well as previously sacked a steward after 19 years’ service for attempting to return a confiscated anti-Glazer banner to its owners. If anything, these heavy-handed tactics just strengthens the impression that the owners are unable to present good arguments for their case.

If they firmly believe that such good arguments exist they should make every effort to get them across. I’m still waiting.


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Milan handed us the game on a plate

Posted by hakanrylander on March 11, 2010

A very good performance from United last night and several positive signs going inte the quarter-finals. On yesterday’s evidence Park (my MotM) is probably our best option as the attacking central midfielder. Fletcher again proved that he has that rare quality of playing better the bigger the game. Valencia dominated the right-wing completety (with a little help from Ronaldinho, see below). Nani had a shaky start but improved as the game went along, and provided the best moment of the match with his superb pass for Rooney’s second goal. As for Rooney himself, another proof that he’s England’s best player.

Even so I think the main reason why United were so dominant was that Milan more or less handed us the game on a plate by poor work-rate and lack of tactical awareness. The most glaring example was that the left-back Jankulovski, one of the weakest individual links, was given virtually no support at all from Ronaldinho. As a consequence, Valencia and Neville could do pretty much whatever they pleased down that corridor. Furthermore, the other attackers, Huntelaar and Borriello, spent a lot of time waiting for the ball rather than take part in the build-up. This was a huge difference to e.g. Rooney and Valencia.

In fairness, Milan probably suffered a lot from the absence of Pato and Nesta. Milan still created a couple of chances early on, and with crisper finishing from Ronaldinho and Huntelaar it could have been a much tighter game. But I’m sure United would still have prevailed given Milan’s weaknesses.

I’m already looking forward to the next round.

Posted in Manchester United, Match Reports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Dog saves United

Posted by hakanrylander on March 8, 2010

In our present debt situation it might be a good idea to learn from history. This interesting article by Scott at RoM reveals how Newton Heath, as the club was then known, was saved by a dog (and John Henry Davies) when it (the club) was close to bankruptcy in 1901. A similar project is presently under consideration by a group of puppies known as The Golden Knights (below).

Preparing to save United?

Posted in Manchester United | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

And there shall arise after them seven years of famine

Posted by hakanrylander on March 3, 2010

After the Red Knights yesterday declared publicly their intention to put together a bid for United, the Glazer family has vowed to stay in control until at least 2017. No doubt planning to drain the club of as much cash as possible during each of those years.

The prospect of seven more years with the Glazers makes me turn to The Scriptures for guidance.

“Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt; And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land.” (Genesis 41:29-30)

In fact, we’ve probably even seen seventeen years of great plenty. But this era is in danger of coming to an end if the Glazers continue to care a lot more about their own pockets than about long term sporting success. The terms of the recently published bond prospectus make it possible for the family to take out £172m next year alone.

This does not mean we’re heading for a Leeds or Portsmouth scenario. The club’s revenues and cash flows are strong enough for us to stay reasonably healthy despite the Glazer’s best efforts. But we will eventually find it impossible to keep up with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea and City whose owners put lots of money into the clubs, or at least don’t take anything out. And that’s a famine, by United standards. So let’s hope that the talk of staying until 2017 is just part of the negotiations.

Meanwhile, the line-up of red knights looks very impressive including many experienced City investors and analysts. It seems likely that a credible bid will be constructed. Whether this will be accepted by the Glazers is another matter.

Posted in Financial, Manchester United | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Red Knights Likely to Come Up Against Brick Wall

Posted by hakanrylander on March 2, 2010

The Red Knights today confirmed that they are putting together a bid for United. The group, led by Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill, said that for their proposals to be viable, they would need the backing of Manchester United fans around the world. Well, at least they most certainly have the backing of Between the Lines (That’s a done deal then?/Ed). An ideal solution would be for a number of wealthy investors to own the majority of the shares, with 10-20 percent spread among ordinary fans.

A spokesman for the Glazers has told the Guardian that “Manchester United is not for sale”. This is of course rubbish. In the world of business virtually all assets are for sale, at the right price. And I think I can guarantee that the Glazers’ attachment to United is not of the kind that will make them reject any offer.

The crucial problem is whether the Red Knights will be able to put together an offer high enough to tempt the Glazers. Unfortunately I believe there are two main reasons why they will fail to do so. Firstly, a group of City investors, however devoted to United, are likely to expect a decent return on their investment. Fair enough, but this puts a ceiling on the amount of money they will be prepared to pay for the club. Secondly, the Glazers have manouvered themselves into a position, most recently by way of the bond issue, where they are able to move a huge part of United’s cash flow into their own pockets. They probably reckon that they can keep the cash flowing for several more years with only a minimum of investment in new players. The conclusion is that the club is most likely worth more to the Glazers than the Red Knights are willing to pay.

Which leaves one option. The balance of the deal could change if it’s likely that the future revenue streams will look different depending on who owns the club. If OT is not filled for every league game, if lots of fans stop buying offficial merchandise etc the Glazers will be forced to take another hard look at the expected return on their investment. And they might just come to the conclusion that selling is the sensible thing to do.

For anyone who wants to delve further into the financial situation and the apparent Glazer strategy I recommend the excellent Andersred.

Posted in Financial, Manchester United | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »