Posts Tagged → Manchester United
In less than nine days the football authorities (The FA, Premier League and Football League) will have to produce a plan of introducing measures spelled out in Octobers government response to the football government report. I’m sure we’ve all looked at it but some of us like me haven’t looked at it closely enough. Many of us believed it would do nothing and was a halved arsed effort. Firstly consider this… Some of the items in the governments response refer directly back to the the report. For example we all believed the Government had passed over leveraged buyouts but that is not the case. I even said in a past blog they’d completely bottled it. This past blog shows you need to go into more detail… Leveraged Buy Outs To Be Banned
Another area which I haven’t looked at in more detail until now is covered in the governments response under point 41.
41. One option that we have considered is to specify within the new club licensing system a trigger point that would require clubs to make a seat available to one or more supporters’ representatives on the Board. Such a trigger point could be the next time the club changes hands; the point at which the officially recognised supporters organisations reach a certain size; or by a majority vote of eligible supporters. There will be other options as well.
Point 41 means within the club licensing system there will be a trigger point system for the officially recognised supporters trusts to place members on the board of football clubs. The recommendation says these will include a change of ownership, the size of a supporters trust, by a vote and that there will be others options. If this had been in place in the past, clubs over the last few years like Leeds, Plymouth and Portsmouth who have had problems could have placed a member on the board for greater power and transparency.
This trigger point system to get a member on the board for many clubs may only come about at the point when a club changes hands or gets in trouble. I think many people have passed over the other trigger points. The change of ownership has been happening since football clubs were created and for all clubs this will come around but for a club like Manchester United or Chelsea where the owners say they have a ‘long term interest’ or another club which could be anywhere in the leagues which hasn’t changed hands for 20-30 years like Wigan, that system doesn’t and won’t work. A key recommendation here is once an officially recognised supporters organisation reaches a certain size instead of changing hands. Most football clubs even in the Premier League may only have at best a few 1000 members or less, some only have 100s. Norwich City for example a Premier League club have over 600 members but own 1200 shares worth a value of £121,000 in their club. Swansea City fans already have a member on the board due to the fact they own 20% of the club. The Manchester United Supporters Trust back in 2005 had a touch over 30,000 members. They now have over 175,000 and if this trigger point for example requires 1000 or even 10,000 members, surely from day one of the new licensing rules, our supporters trust would meet the requirement triggering that point. A trigger point like this could do two things. One, trigger on the day its introduced for those who meet the criteria and two other supporters trusts would surely have a big inventive to promote themselves and grow to meet that target. If the target was 1,000 which to me seems realistic. Reading, Spurs, Arsenal and others would meet it but many wouldn’t. I believe a target of anything over 10,000 would make it impossible for most clubs to achieve and impossible for smaller clubs.
A licensing system so clubs have to talk to fan groups like IMUSA/MUST, possible members on the board, supporters trusts given first options on future takeovers via administration, leveraged buyouts banned, protection of shares in football clubs, full transparency on the ownership of football clubs and its debts is all very much on the cards. We could have done with all that in 2005 and today the next club in trouble will be Arsenal. Hopefully this will protect them from big debts and American owners. Currently this all feels like a pipe dream but if we then consider that by next Wednesday the footballing authorities have to agree a plan as set out in the response and that the government want most of the recommendations in the response in place by the start of the 2012-2013 season it becomes much more real. Of course for many of us it won’t be real until it happens.
Last month the Scottish Premier League relaxed the rules on standing and has allowed for safe standing areas to be reintroduced. Currently Rangers, Celtic, Kilmarnock and Motherwell are all currently exploring the option of installing safe standing areas in their stadiums. The key difference between English clubs and Scottish clubs is the Scottish clubs are not bound by the Taylor Report and English laws so they have one less problem to over. The Premier League has said in the past it doesn’t want to introduce safe standing back into the Premier League but now certain English clubs are exploring the idea. Aston Villa is one club to have plans in place and is seeking support at the next Premier League meeting from other clubs. Arsenal and City have also been rumoured to be interested in safe standing areas. The type of standing that would in place would be very different from the standing areas you see at many lower league clubs or the type we saw in the past decades before standing was banned. If reintroduced Scottish and English clubs would follow the Germany system of fold up seats and bars where a stand can be converted to either safe standing or seated if required under UEFA regulations.
Villa is one of many clubs where standing takes place for long periods of time even though it is banned. The same can be said for most other clubs. The Kop at Anfield, K Stand and the Stretford End at Old Trafford are all areas where no one will sit down for 90 minutes. Manchester United have been warned in the past by the local council for persistent standing but it still carries on. Much of it is over looked. Even at away games clubs like Liverpool have admitted persistent standing isn’t a problem, so a question needs to be asked. Is the current law 15 years out of date? It would seem so as much has happened. Hooligans aren’t anywhere near a big a issue as they were 20 or 30 years ago. Football is safer, new technology and techniques have been developed. Its also been proven standing in seated at Premier League stadiums isn’t dangerous. It happens at every away game up and down the country every Saturday and Sunday. When was the last time there was an issue because fans were standing? The Germans have also developed a very successful and safe standing system. I believe its time for the Government, FA and Premier League to allow Villa to install a safe standing system as in Germany which can be monitored. It will prove ‘standing’ wasn’t the issue. It was everything around it and everyone knows it. Everything has to be managed if it isn’t, problems will occur.
Another problem with the current Premier League system is the ticket price and everything that goes with football. Its about money and many clubs have lost a certain type of supporter over the past 10 years to do the huge increases in price of a football ticket. If you’re a fan of Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal etc ticket prices are normally £35 to 50 or maybe more. At Bolton, Blackburn and City it’s more like £25-35. Standing tickets would not only bring the price down, they’d increase the attendances, capacity and the type of people attending football matches. Those priced out could now afford to attend games. For clubs like Bolton and Blackburn, safe standing areas could improve the atmosphere and bring back a community feel to being a fan. It should in theory improve the atmosphere at any ground it was introduced. I’ve not really heard any argument against it and there is a lot of support, its time the law was changed but changed with regulations on how standing is managed. Managing the system and the type of system is the key to success.
After Stan Kroenke comments on American owners and the Glazers which can be seen here…
…. it’s time we looked at a number of the American owners who have been and are involved in English football clubs. I’m looking at just how trust worthy each owner is and how that relates to me and you the fans.
First off the Glazers. The list of issues and problems could go on for pages but Kroenke as ever, misses the major problems. If United make £50 or £300m, do or should I really care? No. What I do care about is where that money goes. He makes the mistake of mixing what happens on the pitch and off the pitch together. It either goes on the pitch or into investment in the stands, anywhere else and its a complete waste. Its pretty clear that the Glazers costing the club £535m has had no benefit for the club or the fans. My last blogs shows how even the British Government has now accepted this view.
Next is Hicks and Gillett at Liverpool. These are two Americans who tricked the fans and everyone else into thinking they could solve all Liverpool problems. They said no debt would go on the club, that was a lie and at the end they even tried to block the new takeover with more debt by taking out a massive payment-in-kind loans like the Glazers used. This would have basically crippled the club. A big issue has been the new stadium, the new owners promised to build it but it never happened. They were welcomed with open arms at first and left the club in a right state.
Following on from those two con men is another con man called John W Henry but he’s just the face of NESV. If I was a Liverpool fan I would seriously start to question the motives this group have because there are a lot of similarities to the Glazers and to the past Liverpool American owners. There is a lot of information that is hidden and that has not been made public. Just like Uniteds ultimate ownership, NESV ownership and ultimate Liverpools ownership is in Delaware. In 2010 Uniteds ultimate ownership was moved there and just at the same time the PIK debt was ‘gone’. We say gone but as Andersred put it on one of his past blogs “It is virtually impossible to get information on Delaware companies” We don’t even know who the Directors are, let alone what the accounts look like. The most likely position thats accepted is the Glazers PIK debt was refinanced behind closed doors. I can’t see any other way the Glazers could find £250m over night.
This leads on to Liverpools real position. Most Liverpool fans believe they are One. Debt Free and Two. Now Loaded. Henry and the like have refused to say what NESV debt consists of or how the takeover was really funded. They have also refused to say they won’t put debt on Liverpool. They sound to me just like Hicks and Gillett but just without the promises.
Heres a some quote from John W Henry on the matter..
“LFC discloses its financials annually, so monies going in and going out are disclosed. But I’m not going to disclose NESV financials or financing information.”
“But NESV has always had debt, from the first day we purchased the Red Sox.”
“£218m was partly raised from the NESV partners personally and partly from borrowing.”
So just like the Glazers and just like Hicks/Gillett, NESV has debt and they’ve admitted they’ve taken on debt to fund the takeover. Hidden in Delaware, has taken on debt, won’t be open nor truthful to provide the real figures. Where have we seen that before? It’s clear why no commitment has been over a stadium. They just like the past Liverpool owners are going to struggle to raise the £400m needed for the new stadium and there is always a possibly debt could be moved onto the club. I don’t see how the club has really moved on.
Next is Stan Kroenke. If you’re an Arsenal fan and you believe his comments about the Glazers, you are a very naive person. If he has no problems with what the Glazers have done at United I’d be very worried. It sends out all the wrong messages. I’d be very worried about debt and I’d be very worried about him increasing his shareholding over the next few months. I’d hope the new licensing rules are already in place before he could mount a leveraged takeover and if he’s going to mount one I’d expect it to be sooner rather than later. At one end of the scale we have Chelsea and City but at the other end these American owners who believe putting debt on clubs, increasing ticket prices and increasing turnover is the way to go. My view is neither are good for the game, the fans or the clubs.
I started this in another blog and quickly realised the importance of what I had written and after some reading, what I had missed. At first many including myself made the mistake of thinking the Government had paved over the subject of leveraged buy outs and they had bottled it. This is not the case. To get the full story you have to link to the Culture, Media and Sport Committees report on football governance with what the government said in the final report. The government has infact used the recommendations from that. It asks any reader to look at the Committees evidence and it’s recommendations. This is the paragraph from governments final report….
30. The Government notes the evidence before the Committee on the use of leveraged buyouts to purchase football clubs and the strong view of the Committee on the appropriateness of this vehicle. The Government expects that the issue of financial sustainability should be addressed as part of the recommendations on the new licensing model.
…. and this is the Committees recommendation.
176. In all the evidence we have received, a whole-hearted defence of the use of leveraged buyouts to buy football clubs is entirely absent. Within a football context, the leveraged buyout appears to be a particularly risky vehicle with little obvious benefit, and certainly not to supporters and local communities.
When the two are together it’s is very clear that the government is calling for Leveraged Buy Outs to be blocked or banned using the new Licensing Model. This is for me one of the greatest successes we’ve had in a long time.
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?
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.
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.