Before you draw conclusions & curse or abuse me, I am all in for #GlazersOut. But not only during transfer windows, it needs to be sustained throughout the year, 365 days! Almost every transfer window, the club fails to bring in notable signings & rebuild & then all fans gather on social media to wreck havoc while rival fans get their popcorn bins & start enjoying the show (not that I care), due to the entertainment it provides for most.
#GlazersOut needs to become a movement, an identity which portrays the injustice being done to the club, thereby orchestrating its downfall.
Speaking of movement, I’m sure you’d have heard of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the most famous civil rights activist in the U.S., who led a nonviolent movement for change in the 1950s and early 1960s. He advocated for protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience in place of violent activism. Of course, the objective of his protest was different, but he stood for what’s right.
Manchester United, as a club, has reached a stage where a (non-violent) movement is needed to move Glazers out of the club! The controversial way that Malcolm Glazer acquired the club by taking debts & borrowing capital, was not welcomed by many fans in 2005.
But most fans would think, why is there a need to have the owners move out, if we can get Jadon Sancho or may be Thiago or maybe Mbappe next season.
Well, like most clubs, Man United is an organization & for any organization to be run successfully, it has to work on the following basic principles:
- Generate Revenue
- Clear Debt (if any) &
- Make profit
Before I dive into why Man United can’t sustain itself in the long run, I’d like to share a small example of a very renowned businessman from India, who apparently also was world’s 6th richest person with $42 billion in wealth, in 2008. The name of the businessman is Mr. Anil Ambani, many of you would be aware of him.
Mr. Anil, after his father, Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani passed away in 2002, inherited (after a bitter dispute with his brother Mr Mukesh Ambani) most of the wealth & goodwill his father had created before him.
Anil Ambani also saw immense growth in wealth in the initial stages. He began his solo ride by investing in industries that provided quick returns. It goes without saying that the risk was high too. So much so, that we became a celebrity industrialist, famous across the globe.
So what went wrong & how did Mr Anil Ambani became bankrupt?
2014, however, started brewing trouble for Anil Ambani as his companies had taken huge debts. Other bad decisions quickened his wealth loss. By 2019 things got so bad for Anil, that he was threatened with jail if he did not pay his dues.
The learning? Incurring Debt & not paying it off! Most businesses take loans or get venture capitalists to invest money in their business, which is fine. Most start-ups don’t have the capital to sustain. BUT, not paying off your debts, while you are generating revenue, is a certain pathway towards your downfall.
That’s exactly what’s happening at Manchester United.
Lets dive in, to understand what Glazers have done in the past 5 years to give you a bird’s eye view.
Swiss Ramble states that “In the last 5 years, the 20 Premier League clubs have benefited from £1.9 bn net financing with most of the money coming from their owners £1,569m (81%) and another £366m (19%) sourced from banks. However, there is a big difference between business models at individual clubs”. The point to highlight in the above chart is £89m have been paid off as dividends to the owners over the past 5 years, which is an average of £17.8m a year! Swiss Ramble’s chart shows that while Chelsea owner Roman Abramovic has put £440 million into the club over that period, the Glazers have taken £89 million out of United. Astonishing!
Moreover, United had significant net cash outflows with £169m. The below chart shows United bottom of the league in terms of overall financing received.
On the other hand, what have the Glazers invested out of their pockets? 0 pounds
The report further states that “Only two clubs made dividend payments to their owners during the last 5 years, mainly United who paid £89m to the Glazers & West Brom. There was another £22m in 2019/20 (not covered in the chart below), adding up to £111m”.
A summary of the last 5 years states that “Man United have paid £209m in last 5 years to fund Glazers’ ownership structure: £120m interest plus £89m dividends. In fact, in last 10 years they spent an extraordinary £838m on financing: £488m interest, £251m debt repayments & £99m dividends. The club took out £140m loan since year-end”.
In their defense, Glazers may argue that the club is sustaining itself through the revenue generated. But milking the club to make a profit of £89m in the last 5 years is not acceptable. Moreover, the debt that they have accumulated, to buy the club in 2005, is untouched & there seems to be no plan to reduce it any sooner.
As of 31st March 2020 Manchester United had £527.9m of debt, an increase on £495.5m, over one year. However, it also had £90.3m in cash, and so its net debt is £437.7m.
The painful fact apart from the fact that we are drowned in debt, as a fan is also that:
- Lack of vision for the club – We don’t seem to have a plan on the pitch as well as off the pitch. The owners seem to be content on the pitch with mediocrity. 7 years back we won the title & there seems to be no plan on how to get it back. Ed Woodward – executive vice-chairman recently mentioned that due to the Corona pandemic, they would need to assess the impact the pandemic has had on the financials & then take steps accordingly, since the overall revenue generated from broadcasting, match-day & non-availability in Champions League, would dwindle. Such comments are coming in from the club, when the total revenue generated by the club in 2019 was £627m. So where are the profits going, in the owners pockets!
- Rival clubs are moving ahead – This summer was the perfect opportunity to flex the financial muscle, as most clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, PSG have been impacted by the pandemic. This presented an opportunity to invest in players needed by the manager, which the club, till now has failed to do so. A live example as you’d know is Chelsea who’ve spent & built a young core for the club to compete for the title.
- Never backed the manager – The club, in the post Fergie era has failed to back all managers it has hired, right from David Moyes, Van Gaal, Mourinho & now Ole. Many past managers have voiced their displeasure about it & got sacked eventually. The question however remains, if you don’t want to build the club on the pitch & just milk the brand- Manchester United, then is it a sustainable plan? If the club doesn’t perform & win trophies, the revenue will decline eventually, thereby affect the club across all levels.
- Horses for the courses – The Glazers have hired an investment banker to run the club. Initially he was responsible to get commercial revenue to drive the club & he did extremely well at it. But post David Gill retired, he took over his role & now runs the club literally & reports directly into the Glazers. Moreover, the club has been crying out for a Director of Football for the past 7 years (read why is a Director of Football needed), which hasn’t been recruited, for reasons unknown.
- Invest in Infrastructure – Old Trafford – The Theatre of Dreams holds the largest average crowds in the UK – 75,000 per game (as per 2018). Yet, the Glazers don’t see the need to invest in the stadium & expand the capacity. The truth behind it? The largely stagnant match day revenues have not increased, therefore the Glazers don’t see a ROI in there.
It might be easy to put this on the long finger and suggest redevelopment is sooner than we think, but this has been a problem for a number of years, and it is not befitting one of the finest grounds in world football.
So, will I be #GlazersOut , Yes!
Will I be #WoodwardOut, Yes!
But only if we all fans pledge to sustain the campaign over the year for 365 days & more if needed, till we get new owners or they mend their ways. We will not limit it to failed transfers or sacking managers or fight amongst the fan base over this issue. This issue needs total support of each & everyone of you.
Our beloved club is in the hands of owners who are sucking out every penny & have never invested their own money, not even a single pound!
Will you trust them to run a football club?
You know the answer, so lets drive the campaign everyday, stop buying club merchandise, stop engaging with the content put up by the club on social media. Raise your voice, use your social handles to raise awareness among fellow fans about this & protest (if not physically, at least online). Every contribution matters!
Support the green & gold, if David Beckham can, we can!