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United we fall Man United's deals, debt and dividends as annual revenue more than trebles under the Glazers’ ownership

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Joel and Avram Glazer have taken massive dividends out of the club

Joel and Avram Glazer have taken massive dividends out of the club

Joel and Avram Glazer have taken massive dividends out of the club

Revenue

Having an official noodle partner in Japan may have left them open to mockery but there is no doubt that Manchester United have become a money-making behemoth under the Glazers’ ownership.

Their annual revenue more than trebled from £173 million in 2006 to £627m in 2019 before coronavirus crisis struck and they made a profit in more than half of those years.

Their lack of a Premier League title since 2013 and the occasional failure to qualify for the Champions League has hardly dented that growth, which has been fuelled primarily by a surge in commercial revenue from £55m 15 years ago to a record £279m last year. It is questionable if that would have been achieved but for the Glazers’ takeover, which triggered a hugely successful regional approach to sponsorship that has milked United’s global popularity to deliver 53 such tie-ups.

However, their recent trophy drought has coincided with a flat-lining of that commercial revenue. Manchester City and Liverpool, who have adopted similar regional models to United, have not only closed the gap but are threatening to surge by in coming seasons.

Debt

The root of fan opposition to the takeover. United were debt-free before being bought out using hundreds of millions of pounds in bank loans. That instantly put them more than £550m in debt and on the hook for tens of millions of pounds annual interest payments.

Net debt rocketed to £773m in 2010, the same year the anti-Glazers green-and-gold campaign began. By the end of it, the family had paid off more than a quarter of that figure, having raised a £500m bond issue. The debt continued to fall after flotation on the New York Stock Exchange and shares were sold to external investors and, in 2019, it almost dipped below £200m. But the pandemic has caused it to surge to £455.5m. Loan repayments made since 2005 total £244m, but only £6m of that was in the past five years. It is also dwarfed by interest payments of £704m, £496m of which have been made in the past decade, more than every other top flight club combined.

Dividends

If fans were not angry enough about the debt being loaded onto the club, the Glazers began paying themselves annual dividends, with the total they have received since the takeover reaching £125m.

Almost all of that has been pocketed in the past five years, the same period in which debt repayments have all but ceased. It included a £23m dividend during the pandemic, albeit one signed off on before the crisis.

Transfer spend

One of the biggest complaints about the Glazers’ early tenure was that they failed to invest properly in the squad, relying on Alex Ferguson to get the best out of an increasingly below-standard set of players. This is borne out by a net transfer spend of just £153m during the Americans’ first eight years in charge. In the seven years since, that net spend surged past pounds 1 billion as they backed a succession of managers’ attempts to bring in fresh blood.

However, many of those recruits flopped, while it could be argued money used to service the debt would have been better spent on improving the squad. Their failure to appoint a director of football has also drawn criticism.

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Infrastructure spend

The lack of investment at Old Trafford has been one of their saddest legacies, with just £185m spent on it and the training ground.

Conclusion

For all the success United have enjoyed off the field, there is no escaping the spoils of this have been used more to line the pockets of the Glazers and their creditors (£1.073 billion) than on improving the squad (£1.005b).


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Telegraph.co.uk


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