United fans are strongly opposed to the American regime.
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No one is likely to confuse Harry Redknapp with a forensic accountant, but just 24 hours after his misguided support of the dying Hicks and Gillett regime at Liverpool, Manchester United’s latest accounts provided further evidence of the extent to which leveraged buy-outs can have a damaging impact on even the biggest of clubs.
“I'd love to know what the two Americans have done that is so wrong,” Redknapp wrote in The Sun on Thursday, somehow letting it escape his attention that the debt-laded takeover orchestrated by the Hicks and Gillett had crippled Liverpool, bringing a once-great club to its knees. Now a nine-point deduction could be incurred if the NESV takeover falls through and RBS places the club into administration next week.
Both on and off the pitch, United are not plumbing the depths scraped by Liverpool. With their vast revenue streams - augmented by the Glazer family’s expansion into foreign markets - and expertly-run affairs, there is no danger of United heading into administration - an invidious position solely accompanied by Portsmouth in the history of the Premier League, for a few days at least. But that is not to say that Friday’s financial results do not make worrying reading for supporters.
United’s accounts revealed an overall loss of £83.64 million, despite turnover rising to £286.4 million and operating profit standing at a record £100.8 million. Not that you would know that from the club’s official website, though - their Pravda-style operation neglected to mention the worst figures and later buried any mention of the results themselves.
That is hardly surprising when they paint a very unflattering picture of one of world football’s great institutions.
Imagine how financially formidable United would be had £40 million not been hived off to cover interest repayments, or a chunk taken out to cover the Glazers’ bond issue earlier in the year. Instead of signing unknown Portuguese kids with less experience of top-flight football than Ali Dia, they could have been making a concerted effort to follow up Sir Alex Ferguson’s confirmed interest in David Villa.
But emasculated by the Glazer takeover of 2005, they have been rendered impotent in completely unnecessary fashion. United did not need a bail-out, a knight in shining armour. For the sake of the club changing hands, it has been submerged in interest fees and charges.
Although United posted a profit of £48 million 12 months ago, that ostensibly impressive figure was only achieved after the club failed to resist a fax from the Bernabeu with £80 million emblazoned across it and decided to sell Cristiano Ronaldo.
While UEFA’s new financial fair play regulations, brought in to ensure that clubs do not artificially enhance their spending power, are expected to cause real trouble for free-spending Manchester City, across the city at Old Trafford, the opposite is true.
As a result of the Glazer takeover, United’s owners have artificially constrained their own club’s ambitions in the transfer market. United should be a club in a position to fully capitalise on their soaring turnover and burgeoning operational profit; instead, the burden of debt incurred by the Glazer takeover means they are not.
The vast majority of United fans are savvy enough to realise that just because they are competing for the Premier League this season, and won the Champions League under Glazer control in 2008, does not mean that their place at the summit of English football is guaranteed, or that their future is in the right hands - their prolonged and admirable protests against the Glazer regime tell you that much.
It is a distinction that Harry Redknapp - and anyone else ready to ignore the adverse impact of leveraged buyouts - would do well to recognise.