On a Friday when only one subject should be discussed amongst Manchester United fans – and the word SHOULD has got to be emphasized, two stories have hit the headlines which simply must not be ignored! The big talking point ought to be Liverpool coming to town on Sunday afternoon for a game which can potentially make or break United’s hopes of claiming a record breaking 19th title and completing a first ever quadruple of successive titles.
But no! Media headlines are reporting that strong consideration is being given by the Glazer family to increase season ticket prices to help with the club’s enormous interest payments. United were the only club in the Premier League not to reduce or freeze season ticket prices for the current season, when the trend throughout the rest of English football’s top division was to recognise there was a significant threat of pricing supporters away from the game in a time of recession.
Instead, the Premier League champions asked their 55,000 season ticket holders to pay an extra £1 for each match, calculating it would bring in an extra £1million from their 19 Premier League home matches despite being acutely aware that such a move would increase the sense of animosity that has led to fans protesting against the ruling Glazer family.
In a further move which is certain to antagonize fans, the American owners are considering a second round of refinancing in an effort to remove Manchester United’s huge debt burden in the hope that such action would help to stave off a planned takeover by the Red Knights. They simply refuse to recognize that if successful, the end result will be even more debt heaped upon a club which was bought with a mind boggling amount of borrowed money in the first place!
There are a number of ways in which the Glazers could refinance their large PIK debt. A source close to the Americans said there has already been several approaches from investors who would want to buy a stake in the club. A well placed banker has admitted that “The Glazers have been approached by lots of groups about a deal. Rather than sell a stake however, the Glazers would prefer to refinance the PIK at a more favourable rate of interest. Crazier things have been done than this” the banker said “What you will see in periods of buoyant global markets is investors becoming anxious to get their hands on new bond issues”
Because the interest rate could rise to 16.25 per cent if a debt threshold outlined in the PIK notes is exceeded by August 16, there is good reason for the Glazers to secure a refinancing package as quickly as possible.
In all this wheeling and dealing by the Glazer bean counters, the one certain result can only be higher costs for everything from a humble pie to a season ticket and everything else in between. So what’s the answer to this Glazer high handed business strategy?
In a world of unfettered free enterprise that we now live in there can only be one possible solution. It may be as outdated as it is likely to be unpopular amongst financial institutions but that does not make it wrong! Yes, we are talking about the type of government intervention which is way overdue. Everything to do with football has simply got to be frozen at existing prices, government has the means to do it, all it needs is the will.
The undisputed facts are that football is a British institution, financially struggling families are finding it increasingly difficult to be part of that institution and children are slowly being lost to the future of the game. Going to a Premier League match with a couple of children is already on the verge of not being affordable leaving dad with no other option but to go down to the local in order to watch it.
A General Election is on the horizon, the time to pressure local members of parliament with some heavy lobbying could not be better. Badger and harass them with letters, emails, phone calls and whenever they go on their customary pre election door knocks until genuine sympathetic response is forthcoming. The bottom line is that the future of the game in Britain must not be held hostage by people like the money grabbing Glazers and other similar vultures any longer.
Should government freeze prices on everything involving football clubs?