So that’s it then. The decision has been made and it’s a final one. Who says so? The Manchester United chief executive David Gill that’s who. In an exclusive interview with The Independent newspaper he defends the Glazer business plan, dismisses the Red Knights and firmly insists that the club is ‘Not For Sale’. That’s it, end of story, any such thoughts are completely rejected out of hand.
In the club’s latest quarterly statement, it was made clear that although “The board noted recent press speculation regarding a possible bid for Manchester United, the owners remain fully committed to their long term ownership of the club. Manchester United is not for sale and the owners will not entertain any offers”
The figures in the statement show revenue growth in all areas except those from matchdays. Questions therefore need to be asked as to why they have gone down by £1million compared to the same three month period in the previous year. Overall debt is now a staggering £520m although that figure does not include the payment in kind notes for which the Glazers themselves are responsible and now attract huge interest of 16.25%.
In his interview, Gill makes the claim that he is confident that the heavily criticised Glazer ownership with its debts of £716m, most of which is directly loaded onto the club, could be sustained by United’s profitability. Like most other arguments however, this is far from simply being a black and white one as there are plenty of grey shades in between.
Gill’s comments are sure to fire up the debate with the various Manchester United supporters’ groups. Most of them have been personally critical of Gill who has been at the club since 1997 and had initially resisted the Glazer takeover. The protests were fuelled by the disclosure that the Glazers had the provision to pay themselves up to £9m a year in fees from the club as well as a debt that costs £45m annually in interest payments alone to service.
There can be no argument however that the facts support Gill when he says of the protestors “They are not going to change their opinion even if we win three Champions League titles in a row. We couldn’t have been much more successful in the last three years. We won the league in 2007, 08 and 09, we were Champions League winners and runners up and we won the Carling Cup twice but they are never going to be happy”
Despite that success, speculation has increasingly grown about the possible offer from the Red Knights group aimed at seizing control of the debt laden club because of concerns about its future. The latest ‘Not for sale’ statement by the Glazers shows that they are now confident of their ability to ride out the protests and the call for a boycott of season tickets that looks certain to accompany any rejection of the Red Knights bid.
The Red Knights plan obviously carries with it some worrying shortcomings but it appears certain that even if it was perfect in every way, it is doomed to fail unless the Glazers can somehow be forced into selling. That seems highly unlikely which leaves a large, dark cloud hanging over the club. For let’s face it, despite Gill’s well rehearsed spin, the whole future of Manchester United is now at stake.
Is there any way that the Glaziers can be forced into selling the club?