July 4th, 2012
11:02 AM GMT
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London (CNN) – Here's a question for football fans - if your team was given a $100 million cash injection this summer, what would you like to see it spent on? New players? Contract extensions? Stadium improvements?

If you're a Manchester United fan, the good news is that your team is planning to get that $100 million in cash. The bad news is, all the money's going straight to servicing one of the biggest debt piles in sports.

The team revealed its plans for a $100 million public offering on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday night, crushing hopes in Asia that the world's most popular football club would choose to float in Singapore. In filing with the SEC, however, the club also showed just how difficult it will be to keep up with its noisy neighbors (and reigning English champions) Manchester City, bankrolled by Sheikh Mansour's bottomless pockets.

According to the filing, the club's debts stood at an eye-watering $664 million in March. While that's lower than previously reported figures, the club now admits that it's putting the club's competitiveness at risk. And most worryingly for fans, that explicitly includes the club's ability to attract new players and coaching staff.

As a result, the club says all proceeds from the float will go directly towards reducing the debt levels. The majority of it is due to be paid back in 2017; there's also a credit facility run by JPMorgan Europe that the club warns it may have to rely on, although it hasn't needed to do so since 2009.

Were it to borrow money that way, it would be due back in 2016, just as UEFA is phasing in its new Financial Fair Play rules. With a backdrop of tougher financial controls, stricter deficit regulations and a renewed focus on sustainable spending, the next five years could be a serious scramble for United's accounting department.

This news confirms the fears already held by some fans, many of whom have already protested against the club's American owners, the Glazer family. "Until we have more detail it is impossible to say with certainty what this will mean for Manchester United or its supporters," says a statement from the Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST).

"However if it turns out that the vast majority of the proceeds are used to pay off the debt that is certainly something MUST would welcome and entirely vindicates our longstanding position that [the Glazers'] debt was damaging our club."

The restructuring of the company is already under way, though again, it may not put fans at ease. Many of them will remember April 30th, 2012 as the day United lost a crucial local derby to City, ultimately handing their neighbors the Premier League title. According to the SEC filing, April 30th was also the day that Manchester United Ltd became a registered company in the Cayman Islands.

If all this stirs United fans into turning once again on the club's owners, the float itself will do little to dilute the power of the Glazer family. Much as News Corp., and more recently Google have proven, a creative organization of voting rights will help consolidate the Glazer family's hold on the club. Even once the public takes partial ownership, the Class A shares being issued will carry only one vote; the Class B shares will carry ten - that means whether or not this IPO is a success, it will still be the Glazers running the show in the boardroom.

It will be their decisions that determine just how much that ominous debt pile will hurt the future of one of the world's most popular teams.

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. kehinde - sanni

    The glazer family are not acting in the interest of manchester united fc because it will be difficult for big players to come to manchester united.They should sale manchester united to potential buyer in middle east if not,it will be difficult for us to rule europe and england.i beg the glazer family to sale united for a potential buyer.

    July 4, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  2. derek whitton

    All very well but would someone please explain how/why or whatever, a debt of $650 million has been accrued by one of the most high profile/successful Companies on the planet
    Where has the money gone is the question that needs to be investigated as per Barclays

    July 4, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  3. Grant

    @ Derek. AFAIK The Glazer family purchased the stock, gained majority shareholding and then transferred ALL THEIR DEBT to the club

    July 5, 2012 at 2:12 am |
  4. choo

    I wish to know how the Glazers can buy the club with money obtained from banks with the club owing to the banks in the end. I thought the Glazers should be indepted and not the club. Please explain.

    July 5, 2012 at 2:26 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Question of the Day:

    Can ANYONE out there in the blogosphere with ANY morsel of credible brain cell NOT infected by corporate controlled media and ZIONIST controlled social media platforms TELL ME the answer to this VERY SIMPLE QUESTION:

    What is the ratio of Arabs killed, wounded, terrorized versus Israelis?

    July 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Here's a HINT to help you derive the answer or possible solution:
    Follow the money/bread crumb trail...
    Follow the link between this trail AND the cronies on the Hill, WH, Scotus trail...

    POOF, what do you know about that? YOU MEAN the ANSWER is THAT SIMPLE??? Get RID of the MAIN CANCER CELL and the patient can have a CHANCE AT LIFE???

    July 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  7. Mandijerri

    First Facebook, now Man U? I seriously think that with debts of $650million a $100 million IPO is pushing it a bit. Or am I missing something here? Football doesn't make huge money – or it does but the clubs spend it too fast and pay too much – especially in the UK. I would not advise anyone to take this IPO seriously – and New York? What do the Americans know about football?

    July 5, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  8. mutiu raji

    my only advice for glazer is to let mamchester united ltd become plc

    July 5, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
  9. medhat

    Fun to learn English for free

    July 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  10. Colin

    Not once in the article does it point out that ALLUnited's debt is down to the glazers buying the then debt-free club with borrowed money then transfering that debt onto the club – NOT through buying players etc. Makes you wonder if the writer knows this himself. Also disappointing to see so many comments from people who don't know this either. Just shows what a poor job CNN and the rest of the press have done informing the public!

    July 11, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  11. Malcolm

    Perhaps Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST), should change their name to "Brokechester United Supporters' Trust (BUST)".

    July 11, 2012 at 11:24 am |
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    July 15, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  13. Elemamba Ferdinand

    Some of the clubs in the world are going bankruptcy due to poor management, moreso club owners wants to get their money.

    July 21, 2012 at 8:03 am |
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