Tom Leatherbarrow, Head of B2B at WPR Agency blogs on Manchester Utd and why 'only a fool would invest in the club' after the Glazers filed out-of-date accounts for their share offer.
The problem with blogging about football is that it is very hard to objective. Tribal loyalties (in my case towards Liverpool FC) inevitably colour one's opinions.
However, I am willing to go on record with the following statement. I feel sorry for Manchester United supporters! There, I’ve said it, it’s out and I must say I feel better.
What, you may ask, has led me to reach this point? In short, the antics of the Glazer family, who own the club and are busy making plans to incorporate it, not in Manchester or even the UK, but in the Cayman Islands and float it on the New York Stock Exchange.
On the surface this may seem like an attractive proposition for both investors and supporters with regular Champions League football and Premier League TV revenues offering floods of cash. However, investors and supporters need to be cautious. Firstly, the Glazers only plan to float a new B class of shares which hold no voting rights. Secondly, the club will pay no dividend to shareholders.
Got that? The Glazers want your money to pay off Manchester United’s £453 million debt mountain, but you will have no say in how the club is run and you won’t get any income from it.
It gets better, or worse if you are a United fan. It would appear, according to Tuesday’s Guardian that the Glazers want you to make your investment decision on the basis of the club’s accounts to 30th June 2011 when the team reached the lucrative Champions League Final. Unfortunately, another financial year has passed since then, a year in which Manchester United won nowt! Needless to say the accounts to 30th June 2012 have not been made public.
So, in short, the Glazers are saying, “Give us your money to help us pay off the debts we loaded onto the club in the first place, but you will have no votes, no income and no way of knowing if you are paying over the odds for the privilege.”
Of course this isn’t the first time that the Glazers have come up with such a hare-brained scheme. A few years ago a flotation in Singapore was the preferred option until that crashed and burned. This scheme deserves the same fate!