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Old 29th May 2010, 11:24   #1
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Default United Spent £40m Refinancing Debt Following £80m Ronaldo Sale

Manchester United Spent £40m Refinancing Debt Following £80m Cristiano Ronaldo Sale

* Old Trafford club have £95m cash reserves and turnover has increased by £26m year-on-year
* But club debt has grown by £12m from January to £520m
* Overall debt set to exceed £750m for current financial year

By Wayne Veysey
May 28, 2010 4:41:00 PM

Manchester United spent the equivalent of half the proceeds from the £80 million Cristiano Ronaldo sale on refinancing their debt earlier this year, the club’s latest set of financial figures reveal today.

The quarterly results for the period January to end of March 2010 show an apparently buoyant economic picture, with cash reserves of £95.9m and a turnover that has increased £26m to £219m from the corresponding nine-month period last year.

But the Glazer family are continuing to increase the debt burden on the club.

Analysis of United’s accounts shows that the club made a one-off loss of £40.7m on interest rate swaps in the first quarter of the year, in order to change to a more favourable fixed deal after the club lost out to the sharp fall in interest rates.

This club have already paid off £12.7m of this – the equivalent of revenue from this season’s Champions League home games – and the remaining £28m will be absorbed by United over the next five years.

Despite the vast cash reserves, it is unlikely manager Sir Alex Ferguson will see too much of the money in the way of a summer transfer kitty. The £45m annual interest bill already soaks up half of the cash reserves.

Furthermore, although the overall debt in the club has decreased from £543.3m in March 30 2009 to £520m, it has increased by £12m since the Glazers took out a £500m bond in January to refinance what the club calls their “senior debt”.

The big mystery surrounds the notorious payment in kind (PIK) loans, which, although not revealed in the results posted by the football club, are estimated to have grown to £225m. They are set to rise even further with the interest rate due to jump to 16.25 per cent in August.

In the latest annual accounts, to July 2009, debts at the parent company Red Football Joint Venture increased to £716.5m. Based on today’s figures, that could comfortably exceed £750m by the end of the current financial year.

One City source told UK: “This is a very well run football club with a scary bank sheet attached to it. If you take away the debt and look at the football club it is a resounding success story making huge amounts of money. Below the club sit some very nasty financial details.”

The last few months has witnessed a public battle between the club and the Red Knights, a group of wealthy individual supporters, with the two parties offering hugely differing estimates of United’s value.

The Glazers made a clear statement in the accounts today that the club is “not for sale and the owners will not entertain any offers”.

Earlier today, chief executive David Gill said that with the financing in place at the club and the growth in its commercial operations, United could “still be a top, top club”.

He told the Independent: “We can invest in players, invest in the training ground – we have plans for that – invest in the stadium and do those things. The money is definitely there. We are not in a situation where Alex is restricted in what he wants to do with the club.”

However, this is unlikely to placate the critics. Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), said: “The Glazers have said almost nothing for the last five years but all of a sudden with a supporter friendly takeover bid being assembled and supporters threatening not to renew season tickets they are in a real panic.

“Of course they won't say anything in person - they hide behind their PR people and club employees. David Gill wouldn't be defending them if he wasn't an employee. When the Glazers go perhaps we'll hear his true feelings.

“The fact is they've put no money in - not a single penny. The money used to purchase the club went to the shareholders, not the club and of course they borrowed the vast majority of that money and then transferred the debt to the club.”
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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