Category → Football
Although this may not but the most important thing in the world and some might say it’s not linked to football finance, too a point this is. When people talk about Old Trafford or the expansion of the Old Trafford South Stand there are lots of rumours flying about. A popular view shared by many supporters and myself is currently we aren’t going to see to much investment into the South Stand while you know who is in charge. After last weeks story on Manchester United buying up more land you’d think nothing of it but if anyone has ever looked at just how much land United own, it might come as a shock. While Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal have had limited amounts of land to deal with in inner city London, United have been slowly buying up land and it’s starting to make the site the stadium sits on look rather small. It you looked an the aerial view of Old Trafford as the new West and East stands were going up you’d have seen warehouses running right up to the back of the Stretford End. Now that isn’t the case and the car parks on the current aerial view are only half the picture. More warehouses have since been cleared. With the freight terminal and last weeks buys heres an aerial view of what I know United own/have control of…..
What I’d say is it could be more than this and someone else thought they owned the large warehouse on the other side of John Gilbert Way but I don’t believe this is the case. They bought the other large warehouse of Wharfside Way. As you can see on the land United currently own and have control over goes over ‘just some land for car parking.’ Compared to other clubs I’d say United must own the most land and by some way. When other clubs see that a club has this much access to local assets, no wonder other clubs like Liverpool and Chelsea start panicking over a new stadium or tv rights. Chelsea for example only have access to 13 acres of land, while United have just brought half that or more in one go. It makes you think just what are the Glazers and the club up to?
The news on pubs being allowed to show live Premier League games on foreign satellite decoders was known last week but this isn’t over. It still requires more time for the high court to view the judgement it asked for so currently Sky can still charge high prices and fine pubs if they don’t pay the fees.
The question again is what does this mean to us and the pubs. If the judgement is accepted which it should be there are number of new issues. The copyright of the game its self seems to be the most interesting. It said ‘sporting events cannot be considered to be an author’s own intellectual creation and, therefore, by extension to be “works” for the purposes of copyright protection in the European Union.’ Basically the Premier League nor anyone else owns copyright to the games being played. The problem here is the court says the graphics, logos and music used by Sky and the Premier League are owned by Sky and the Premier League. Anyone for example streaming from the internet for free would be in breach of copyright law but if the high court approved the judgement and a pub paid a decoder from Greece which was 95% less than you’d pay Sky would that be in breach of copyright law? I don’t see how it could be. You’ve paid for a satellite reciever which is sold by the Premier League to a Greek TV company, if it had the official graphics would that matter? You’ve technically paid the league and you’ve paid for the rights, logos, etc. If the European Judgement stands this allows you to buy the rights to show the games from anywhere within the EU.
I don’t believe the graphics etc and the copyright issue should be that bigger deal if you’re paying for a legitimate European Satellite provider who pays the Premier League for the rights which most pubs will be doing anyway. How can a decoder bought from Greece showing Premier League games which is paid for legitimately within the EU be illegal or break copyright right law? If the graphics are there and they are paid for? What’s the problem?
This leads to how the Premier wants to protect it’s pricing and keep making billions. However the Premier League aims to price it’s services, I would find it very strange it the European arena was treated like the UK with £1000s being charged to show Premier League games. I can’t see the Germans, French, Italians or Greeks agreeing to pay £1000s a month to show Premier League games. The other the issue that’s been rumoured is the League could totally stop showing 3pm games in the EU to stop UK viewers from watching and having access to that service. This again affects the value of the package offered to Europe. Do they really think the Greeks and the rest of Europe will want to pay 95% more with no 3pm games? Every option the league offers or doesn’t offer must affect it’s business. Currently the League has the best offer. It’s UK operations are protected and it can freely sell rights at different prices to different EU countries. I’d still say at this point if it’s a Pan-Euro deal or not, what ever happens the League has big issues and problems to solve. I don’t believe copyright is the biggest issue here unless I’ve missed something, it’s pricing.
You might have heard about this and thought nothing of it but I’m going to put it another way and after you’ve gone part way through this, you should stop reading, then start writing your own email or letter to United. If you’re a season ticket holder and you don’t start writing one, there is something very wrong with you.
Here is the email address for Manchester United Ticketing and Membership services.
Most season ticket holders pay over £1000 a season for the privilege* to apply for away tickets and most of the time the chances of a ticket are very slim. Unless theres a large allocation of 5,000 or more tickets which is very rare, the chances are almost zero. I’ve already covered the reducing of allocations to our supporters but what happened last weekend against Bolton is another level of boiling blood. Bolton had reduced Manchester United’s allocation and then decided sell a selection of tickets to an Irish Travel firm to sell on as away tickets. This was also true for another unknown group of Norwegians who were also sold tickets as away tickets. This is another kind of low and it has to stop right now. We knew this went on last season at Wigan but today this has really started to get noticed after a number of us started investigating it.
These are sold as travel packages to so called Manchester United fans who have nothing to do with the club. They gave United the lowest amount of tickets 10% which was 2,771 tickets out of the 28,000 capacity and then technically upped it again by selling more away tickets to Manchester United fans. Where they came from doesn’t matter, how they were sold does. Manchester United Football Club should be the only ones given the tickets and they should be the only ones allowed to sell away tickets to Manchester United fans. All Season Tickets Holders have an agreement with the club on domestic away tickets. They are the first ones who are allowed to apply for these tickets but an Irish Travel firm as we speak is selling away end tickets in the Manchester United away section. By buying a season ticket you get certain rights and applying for away tickets is one. If other Manchester United fans regardless of where they from are allowed to buy the away end tickets now but other the fans who have paid a lot of money for the privilege of applying officially through the club will never get the chance of getting a ticket, there is something very wrong here. If tickets are being sold outside of the agreement to any Manchester United fans, this must for one break a number of safety regulations. They are Manchester United fans in the away end, in the stadium under Manchester United’s name but they have nothing officially to do with the club. The safety panel have said the number of Manchester United fans in the ground must be reduced and this clearly not the case. This must also break the agreement in a number of ways between the club and the season ticket holders. Clearly the action of selling away tickets only to season ticket holders is not the case and it’s not correct. These agreements for away tickets must question a number of, safety regulations, FA rules and Premier League rules. If something was to happen with the Manchester United fans, Manchester United Football Club would be blamed and they wouldn’t even know who was in the ground.
It’s not only Manchester United Season Ticket Holders who will suffer but Wigan and Bolton are doing the same thing, selling away tickets away from the clubs of Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham. They will do the same thing. Give allocations of 2,700 tickets or there about, then try and sell the remaining to tourists away from those clubs.
If at this point, your blood isn’t boiling you need a kick in the face. Write your email at this point and if you aren’t happy with the response send it me on twitter at @wewantglazerout You can also send your stories to @barneyrednews who will be very interested.
*Based on a 3rd tier season ticket for 19 home games and 10 cup games at £34 a game + champions league ticket price increases.
From the share sale news, to scarfs, to brand new sponsorship deals, to old campaigns and more. There are two things I want to discuss first or more of two things you could do. One any twitter followers, follow IMUSA on twitter. Since 1995 they have been a powerful voice of the fans. They campaign for the fans on almost about everything. Currently they have 375 followers when really it should be over 300,000. Forget MUST, these guys know what it’s about and they aren’t scared of letting others know. FOLLOW EM!
The second is linked to IMUSA in the way. They have officially called for all clubs in the Premier League and Football League to be 51% owned by the fans, so if you haven’t sign this link. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/12412 Had loads of questions about being outside the UK. If you are outside the UK, you just need to say your a UK resident and you can put a none UK address in as normal. That means you type a zip code instead of a postcode for those asking.
On from that MUST have a new campaign or should we say the recycled Green and Gold campaign much like Ashley Youngs new chant. I find the email they sent out a little simple, I don’t believe it was the ‘Green and Gold’ scarfs or the ‘Green and Gold’ Campaign, it was a whole movement and feeling. Put it this way you’ve got a movement against you, one step from possibly going all out, are you going to make it worse or try and dampen the situation down? I think even the Glazers knew taking that £95m out of the club, at that stage would have caused an almighty uproar. With the IPO coming am not saying it’s time to move away, I still wear mine but the latest email from MUST is limited at best. They have this million member project? I’ve never seen this start. There should a plan to push this. If this IPO comes about, wheres the plan for taking a stake? There needs to be a recommended value set which MUST members will buy shares at? Initial or not. I don’t think a pretty poster with George Best on will gain members or buy shares. If one of you reads this, it isn’t me moaning, it’s a feeling we all have.
This DHL deal has really taken to the press… £40m for the training kit. Theres a reason this is doing the rounds. That means for the 1st team kit and training kit sponsorship value is £120m every four years. Considering Arsenals last deal was a £48m for the shirts over 8 years, is valued at £6m a year, this is £10m a year just for training kits. That means Manchester United’s shirt/training deals are 5 times more valuable than Arsenals. Over 10 years that’s comparable with City’s £400m deal but this doesn’t include any naming rights of stadiums and I believe this deal doesn’t include sponsorship on the training gear before Champions League matches. If that’s to do with rules or something else I don’t currently know. You have to ask some questions. If the shirt deal went to market now, what would that fetch? Will there be a deal for the naming of the training ground? Will there be another deal for Champions League matches? Did this deal just make Manchester City’s deal more viable? If other clubs deals like Arsenal’s were up for renewal, what would they fetch? There are likely three more deals in those questions which are already being lined up and that doesn’t include another £3m a year deal with a Vietnamese mobile company that has also just been signed. Another odd one is Mister Potato a Malaysian snack company which is apparently being lined up. United have many of these lower level partners have targeted telecoms firms hard by signing many deals and they are likely to sign more.
The IPO has been raising a few questions and my main current question is to do with the buyers of the shares. We know already you need a broker in Singapore but theres rumour this is just open to financial institutions. That to me would say it’s limiting the value by cutting certain people out, such as this Peter Lim and of course the fans. I don’t really see why other than gaining possible interest or dividend payments why a financial investment company would want to invest in a football club which hasn’t for the last two years made a profit and plans to spend it’s 30% value on reducing debt. The bonds given out have a different purpose than shares. The bonds have an interest rate of between 8-9% and I’d very much doubt the shares would have anything similar unless theres some odd Glazer plan that only makes sense to them and David Gill.
I did a blog the other day about Skys TV deal and how it could be affected by European competition law in October. It’s only after some more research and some digging I’ve worked out how much it could be affected. The press did a number of stories how it could be affected but never put it into numbers. Forget the Football Governance Report and the Phone Hacking if there is something that’s going to hit someone Hard in the pocket in the next few months, it’s going to be this. Sky are estimated to have around 50,000 pub customers with many paying over £1000 a month or more to show live Premier League games. We don’t know the total value figure but that could be put a value of around £600m. The current deal between Sky and Premier League is worth something around £1.7 Billion a season. Currently if you were to install a Greek Box, your expected to pay for the year and so on which works at around £1000-1600 for box, satellite installation, HD and a 12 month subscription. Interesting thing is the card on it’s own to renew is around £995 for the year if you buy it off the installation company which works at out £80 a month. The same package from Nova directly is £45. If you buy it through a UK company that makes it 92% cheaper than a comparable Sky subscription for the year. If you get it direct from Greece it’s 95.5 cheaper.
This is where Skys big problem comes in. A few months ago the Greek broadcaster nova sports threatened to cut British customers off as it didn’t have the rights to broadcast outside of Greece but this has since changed drastically. Since hearing the European Court of Justices likely outcome, they have plans to directly market their products in the UK. Even for home users this makes the market more competitive. Currently with Sky the Sky Sports package is £50 with the same package only being £45 from Nova which also happens to show the 3pm games. If Nova are allowed to market directly to pubs, at 95.5 cheaper rate and are also given the chance to air 3pm games there is no way the current deal is worth £1.7 Billion in the UK. It would clearly no longer be exclusive and the pub market value and prices should in theory drop drastically.
This morning I got a very interesting email. I’ve kept all the details under wraps for obvious reasons and may release them at a later date once this has travelled under the bridge. At first it just seemed like someone had found a place to advertise a random company but then it turns out to be something more. The last thing I expected to see was this….
With the publishing of the football governance report today there are a lot of welcome recommendations. These are good for many smaller clubs but for Manchester United supporters, the ones you could argue who got the report rolling in the first place after the green and gold and red knights publicly stunt it looks like it doesn’t really do much. There isn’t much but the new licensing system which could affect the clubs ownership and style. One thing that caught my eye early on was point 220.
“220. We recommend that the Government consider passing legislation to protect minority supporter stakes that would otherwise be the subject of a compulsory purchase order.”
This basically means a supporters trust with shares within a club would be protected if the law was passed. In 2005 this would have meant the 15% of club would have been protected under shareholders United or todays Manchester United Supporters Trust if under todays co-operative style scheme. Sadly for us this is 6 years too late even for the recommendation. In the Premier League Arsenal, Swansea and Norwich City supporters trusts would have their shares protected under a such a system. This would be true for many other clubs throughout the Football League and lower leagues of the English Tier system.
The other point that can be noted is the new licensing model. ”The licensing model adopted should both review performance and look to promote sustainable forward-looking business plans.” You could argue in an instant the current business model in many clubs isn’t sustainable. Especially at clubs like City and Chelsea. United could also be targeted. A business plan aiming to give away a large amount of it’s revenue to interest payments with no foreseeable end can’t be called sustainable. If a licensing model was introduced that targeted a certain business style such as the rumoured Arsenal model and not the differing United or City business models we could see certain types of debt models and large scale spending models a thing of the past.
I also did a blog yesterday on how Sky could be affected by European broadcast rights at the European Court of Justice and this report supports Sky’s view keeping it as it is. My view comes from the consumers view of charging through the roof for sky sports products.
On Leveraged buyouts and debt in the game apart from criticising both areas, they haven’t said how to reduce debt and didn’t say ‘leveraged buyouts should be banned’. The only thing to protect support shareholdings would be the recommended protected supporter share legislation but even that is limited to a point. It’s the same as before buy as many shares as you can before someone takes over but with your shares in supporters trust intact. This may change as the government has asked the FA and Premier League to get involved in developing supporter ownership. One recommendation which could affect the way we currently see private ownership is the recommendation of Full Transparency on ownership and on debts. So this will change in the case of Leeds United were currently the owners who own a certain percentage can keep their details hidden will now be forced to give up who they are. Debts are also another important area for Manchester United fans. Although currently hidden away in Delaware and considered private, the PIKs which were paid off and rumoured to be refinanced, maybe forced to come to light. It could be argued this money was used to buy the club, which it was and it has had constant links mainly through the large dividend payments put in place during the bond agreement.
The report also urges clubs and supporters trusts to work together on other issues besides ownership issues. On the face of things you can’t force clubs to talk to supporters trusts, so in our case there is zero chance of David Gill and our Supporters Trust or IMUSA getting involved with each other. I don’t think either party wants anything to do with the other. Those battle lines we’re drawn along time ago.
The good points.
The likely hood of less clubs being in financial trouble through a licensing system.
Full Transparency on ownership of football clubs and on debts.
Protection of Supporter Trusts shares already held within football clubs.
The bad points.
Supporters trusts are less likely get take hold of shares unless a club is in big trouble. Administration or the like.
No mention of compulsory or optional share schemes for supporters trusts to buy shares.
Government recommends clubs still rely on Sky TV money which leads to its own problems.
There is no chance of either the club or supporters trust getting involved with one another unless something very big chances.
Anyone remember the Pub landlady who took Sky’s Premier League Football Monopoly to the European Court of Justice. Well the Court will rule on the case on the 4th October 2011 according to a source of the old twitter. This can affect the £1.78 billion tv deal in a number of ways. It would mean european broadcasters have the right to the UK market for the first time. You could buy a satellite box from Romania to Portugal. How prices would be affected at first isn’t clear but I would expect this to impact on Sky from day one. Prices in Europe are unlikely to match Skys £1000+ a month prices but it’s a possibly they could rise. This raises the interesting possibly of Sky dropping it’s rate which therefore means it’s £1.78 billion TV deal would likely fall in value and in demand. The other option this allows is the man on the street to buy from Greece or Germany instead of Sky. This along with the pub landlords could change Premier League drastically. It seems Murdoch could be hit by a second and much more expensive sting within just a few months. Not only could Murdoch be affected but the clubs themselves. There are three options I can see. Collective TV deals become a thing of the past due to value and English clubs sell their own as in Spain, the market becomes truly open with TV companies competing on a country by country basis or the Premier League rights change to a Pan European licensing system. All will for a time break Sky’s monopoly on the Premier League while one or the other is sorted out, which can only be a good thing.
The phone hacking inquiry has allowed the football goverance inquiry report to be put back two weeks. It was due out on the 18th of July which was the Monday just gone but the release date is now the 29th July which is next Friday. Hopefully this should allow for full weekend coverage in the press.
The was also an article in the financial times which mentioned just one of a number of measures set to be imposed on the Premier League by the Government Report. What is surprising is the independent chairman believes there is nothing wrong within the game. Those are the sorts of independent directors who do nothing for the game. The people given these roles should believe there is a problem and have the governments & fans interest at heart. It’s completely pointless to appoint someone who believes everything is perfectly fine the way it is.