Date:Wednesday January 13 2010
Manchester United are up to their necks in debt, no secret there I'm afraid, but an additional crisis has recently reared its ugly head.
Sir Alex Ferguson
The mouthy Scot has recently turned 68-years-old and in a polite way, I have to say he's beginning to show his age. His future at Old Trafford is secure for now but what happens when he finally calls it a day?
There lays the problem and yes, we have to return to the clubs finances before we can answer the above.
It appears the Glazer family may have to refinance the club's £700m debt but how on earth can they do that when the world's banks are reluctant to sink good money after bad?
The Independent has seen a copy of a 322-page document in which Manchester United admit to potential investors that replacing Ferguson will be one of their greatest challenges.
Among the 15 pages of 'risk factors' the club outline an issue when it comes to replacing Fergie. They add...
'Any successor to our manager may not be as successful as he has been.'
Other concerns include...
* The rising power of Manchester City. United admit that their continued success, especially in domestic football, is under pressure from clubs that have the backing of wealthy owners.
* On page 17 of the document, United say...'We face strong competition from other football clubs in England and Europe. In the Premier League, recent investment from wealthy team owners has led to teams with strong financial backing.'
* The prospect of Uefa's new 'financial fair play' rules prohibiting clubs such as United from participating in the Champions League if they accrue large debts or persistently spend more than they earn.
The document says...'There is a risk that, in conjunction with increasing player salaries and transfer fees, the financial fair play initiative could limit our ability to acquire or retain top players and, therefore, adversely affect the performance of our first team.'
* That United's popularity may drop 'in certain countries or regions' if they do not sign high-profile stars from commercially-important regions such as the Far East. This appears to be an acknowledgement of the popularity in Korea that they have earned from the signing of Park Ji-sung.
* The 'behaviour' of players. As well as the admission that United are 'highly dependent' on the performance of their players, they also say that success is also dependent on 'to a lesser degree, the behaviour of players and staff on and off the pitch.'
* Spiralling wages for players. United's wage bill for players and staff rose by £28.8m to £121.1m for the last year. On page 16 of the document, United say...
'Over the past three years, salaries for players and coaching staff have increased significantly. If there is a continued increase in the level of salaries paid to top players and coaching staff in general, we may be required to increase the salaries we pay to avoid losing key members of the playing and coaching staff. Further increases in salaries may adversely affect our results of operations.'
I don't know about you but I have a feeling Old Trafford is on the verge of imploding. The club cannot sustain such idiotic owners continually coming along and taking £10m here and £10m there. But hey, do I care?
Thank the Lord we (City) have owners who care about the club and are more than happy to invest in the infrastructure. This time next year we might be saying RIP Manchester United.
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Date:Wednesday January 13 2010
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