Posts Tagged → MUFC
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.
The email and text below has been sent out to supporters in W15 by the Club. Ground regulations say that certain searches can take place but I and others are not sure what legal basic security have to carry out these checks in the style of airport style searches including emptying your pockets into a plastic sealed bag. Its normally nothing more than a pat down and a bag search. Both which you have to consent to.
So far no one has provided me with the evidence that private security staff have the legal right to do this. I’ve also received one reply saying this type of search is completely illegal and even the Police would struggle to give a vaild reason if they carried it out. If this was to be carried out by the Police they have to provide a reason, under what law its being carried out under, they have to fill in a form to say it took place along with providing their name and Police station they work out of. This is the type of thing the Police conducted London that has sparked off some of the riots last year. Certain types of searches have been ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights with the government and Met facing pressure almost everyday. Its a sensitive subject which should not be forced on supporters. I don’t believe if you did refuse to enter your pockets after a pat down they could refuse you entry. You’ve done wants reasonably required and they’ve asked what they can legally search and can do. Paying supporters should not be treated as guinea pigs so some suits in the Olympic Committee can watch from the side lines for their own satisfaction. Fight it today, tell them to fuck off and test it somewhere else.
In preparation for the Olympic Games, search tests will be trialled at entrance W15 at the Bolton game.
On your arrival at the turnstiles all supporters will be issued with a clear plastic bag into which all pocket contents must be emptied.
Any supporters with bags will be directed to a table where they will be searched and sealed.
All supporters will then be subject to a full search before entering the stadium.
We advise you arrive early tomorrow to avoid queues.
Thank you in advance for your co-operation.
Ticketing & Membership Services”
Half a century of blogs on football governance and ownership issues but this 50th blog will look at how the club deals with the fans. It’s not only just the two issues of ownership and governance which are important to me. It’s the whole football experience, a change of ownership could improve allocations, standing and the general football experience. Currently that’s impossible to get across.
One issue which keeps popping up is tickets and allocations. In the modern game you’d think this wouldn’t be a problem but it’s a massive problem. The standard Premier League allocation for league games for each away team is either 3,000 tickets or 10% of the capacity. It is very rare these days that United see a full allocation of tickets. The main reason that does the rounds is normally persistent standing but it seems this isn’t the case. Each stadium, club and council has it’s own way of dealing with these things and normally the fan visiting has no involvement and isn’t contacted by anyone. When an allocation is cut such as away at Tottenham or Sunderland the reasoning is kept behind closed doors. The club ‘Manchester United’, don’t investigate or publish why the allocation is as it is. When a letter is sent out from the club with the tickets the only word ever used is ‘persistent standing’ but if you ever contract Tottenham Football Club or the local council, the word ‘standing’ is unlikely to the used. The words ‘Health and Safety’ are more likely to be used and the real reason isn’t clear.
Manchester United as a club fail time and time again on behalf of the fans to deal with the issue. There is also a group called ‘the fans forum’ and what they do? I have no idea. Since the club don’t allow criticism of anything they do anymore, there isn’t really much point in the group. Allocations are still dropping, drinks and tickets prices are still going up. Those are the three things most fans are interested in. IMUSA in the past was that group, they called for lower ticket prices and worked with the club on controlling standing and allocations. There is no group like this anymore which challenges the club. It still exists externally but now it has no role within the club.
The club should be challenging standing and allocations. It’s rumoured the standing it’s self isn’t the problem. Keeping the fans informed should be number one and if there is an issue which has affected an allocation it’s best to advise the fans what the issue is. If the real issue isn’t made known it can’t be fixed and it cannot be challenged in the future.
In past by this time of year the manutd.com website would read. ‘Season tickets sold out’ For the second year running that isn’t the case. Last year after all the renewals and the ’25,000 strong season ticket waiting list’ 4,000 season tickets went on general sale. When United say they’ve sold 50,000 tickets that might seem great but in 2008-2009 they sold 64,000 season tickets. That’s 14,000 down.
Because of last seasons the 19th Title and a European Cup Final place the owners believe they can get away with putting the price of the tickets up. They likely believe the ‘movement’ against them has gone away but in reality it’s moved to a different stage. One where new background options after years or protesting might have paid off in the short term. For most season ticket holders buying next seasons ticket it wasn’t about the Glazers or the ‘movement, although that will have had an effect. It’s the cost. At a time when prices have risen and people have lost their jobs, seeing your season ticket increase by £19 will be the final straw for many fans. They simply cannot afford it, that’s not only at United it’s at many clubs. I know a number of fans who haven’t renewed this year but did last year and it shows success does not guarantee bums on seats. This might seem strange but there a lot of people who don’t watch United because of success. United during the 1970s and 1980s had little success but am sure there are a lot of fans out there would cut off their right arm to go back with a few changes.
What’s been reported from the social networking sites, forums and United blogs paints a small picture of what I think is going on behind the scenes at the ticket office. PR for United and the Glazers has been become a huge thing and last season United found out the ‘waiting list’ was a complete failure. I’ve been quiet about this over the last few weeks but it’s been reported in a number of places now. Texts, emails and phone calls. It seems the club are first targeting existing season ticket holders to buy extra tickets and ex-holders who aren’t on any waiting list to buy tickets. As a PR exercise the last thing United want to do is tell the press there are another 4,000 tickets on general sale. If United could hard sell tickets to existing and ex holders and members not on the waiting list over the next week or so, they can then use the ‘waiting list’ as brilliant PR piece. I can see it now David Gill ‘We sold 54,000 tickets and have a 20,000 strong waiting list’ A waiting list they had no intention to sell season tickets too unless forced to. The only other thing is they have used the waiting list already, set a deadline and the first set of replies have been poor as the season before was. I doubt this is the case but it’s possible.
Another big thing is the finance option United have offered on season tickets, I love to know just how many fans used this option and from what I’ve seen many have used this option. Using this option really does show in 2011 it’s not just the Glazers using debt to buy something they can’t afford but the fans have also been forced to use debt to fund the Glazers prices increases.
Every year 10,000s of fans go through this stage… should I or shouldn’t I renew. If you don’t you’ll have that feeling of ‘am I missing out but I my bank account is £700 up’ and if you do it’s the feeling of ‘yes, I’ve renewed but bloody hell I can’t afford this.’ Some fans will renew without even thinking about it, but I bet most don’t. Even the hardest of the hard core ones. Those ones who go to every game home and away. If it’s never crossed your mind, your a liar.
One very big thing which did affect past renewals was the ‘If I give it up, I’ll never get it back’ That has ended last season. If you are keeping season tickets in the family because you think you’ll never get another season ticket, ever again. That’s now ended, it’s been dead for over 18 months. My view, give them up, get rid, if you want them back a few seasons then, they will still be ones on offer.
The next thing is the ‘season ticket waiting list’ I’ll put this another way they send out emails to those who might want them but 85% of the people on it, either see the price and think fuck that or they didn’t really want one in the first place. United reckoned they had 25,000 on it last season but completely failed to sell out. For the first time, they had season tickets on general sale. 5,000 of them. That means after renewals and the season ticket waiting list offers. They still had around 10% up for sale, even at the same price as the season before.
This season renewals have a twist, the owners believe because of a final and a nineteenth success, that means they can put the prices up. Forget the VAT increase, a £300m revenue club not being able to take that on is complete rubbish. The VAT increase over 55,000 tickets is around the same as they pay Rooney over a month. I think they could have taken the hit. Now everyone has said ‘it’s only a pound a game’ or as I put it’s a £19 increase. The same £19 pound increase that was put on tickets other years. It’s only a pound a game but over 6 seasons it’s £250-400 extra a season. Next season it will only be a pound and the season after it will only be a pound. When people say to me ‘but Liverpool’ ‘but Arsenal’ but nothing. They aren’t like us. We were fighting for the club in the 1990s. Arsenal fans only clocked on last month! Liverpool fans? God knows what planet they are on, they welcomed the Americans, both sets. Neither of them really have a clue.
My view is if your on that waiting list and have never had a season ticket before, consider the person that just gave it up. If that person gave it up because of cost or the glazers, you have blood all over your hands. If you’ve had one for years I have no problem with you renewing, it’s a hard choice or renew or not to renew. Not renewing for many is a very hard thing to do, but when you consider the way the Old Trafford atmosphere has gone, the price and what it now represents, it can make you feel like you’ve been robbed both ways. Lets face it, a lot of the people who go into Old Trafford now are clueless. They believe you must buy the shirt to support the club, and when crap chants such ‘we’ll do what we want’ and ‘who are ya’ are the only songs the muppets know, you know it’s gone down the pan. The other people who should be banned inside Old Trafford are those who think having a season ticket is some sort of status symbol. Here’s a hint, go and support Arsenal, they’ll love you.
So do you renew? or another question, are you getting the experience you really want? CES Stewards, crap songs, mongs, tourists, more expensive tickets, 1,000s leaving early even for the European Cup Final (anyone who left before the trophy was lifted needs that head of theirs checking) and no season ticket waiting list. If you don’t renew now or if you don’t buy a ticket now, this should always be in the back of your mind, ‘I can always buy one next season or the season after.’ While ticket prices go up and the Glazers use the club as a piggy bank, that’s the way it will be.
I’d like to reward at least one person from my followers on twitter for their support towards the cause. The cause is the promotion of what’s wrong in football, not just removing Glazer. I’ve done this in the past but I believe this is a mile stone to do it. People say its dead but when someone sees just one Green and Gold scarf, they start thinking about the issue. That for me, means a psychological solution to the problem. Am going to send out one free Green and Gold scarf to the 2,000th follower of the @wewantglazerout twitter account. Worth £5 and it will be from The Manchester United Supporters Trust. I’d love to send everyone something but I don’t have a money tree. I’ve done these in the past and I’ll consider doing another one in the future for the next big mile stone.
The Rules -
These are my rules, I’ll tell you if your the 2,000th by twitter. Don’t tweet at me moaning you were it, I’ll ignore you. I decide.
No fake accounts. No repeat accounts. Example, unfollowing, then following back.
Must hate Glazer and I will post anywhere in the world depending on location, access(Libya might be hard to post to but I’d try) and postage price. The person notified should contact me within 24 hours otherwise it moves to the next person. If you contact me saying you already have one, I can pick someone else, instead.
The Aim Is To Promote The Cause Against Glazer and The Issues Within Football Ownership and Governance. Spread it and don’t forget it.
This week I’ve seen three things which have caught my eye, all have seen my eyebrows raised in a different manner. This blog is only about one! Now its great to see United have 9 Million fans on facebook but as fans we have bigger and more important fish to fry. The Manchesters United Supporters Trust “and now your thinking oh here we go” are as I type this working behind the scenes meeting with MPs and other big fish within football. Some of the Premier League big wigs for example. Most pricks to you and I. The reason is they have been working since the mid 1990s in some form or another, campaigning in government and one time they did win. They helped and stopped Sky taking control. They made it clear after that win we need to band to together and buy a stake in the club. Shareholders United is a famous old name. As ever, nothing goes to plan and Glazer took over. While the football governance inquiry is on and the Trust have said this themselfs in the past a realistic figure is one million members. There are currently 166,805 members signed up, so if that facebook group as 9 million likes, we as fans have issues. Every email address related to a United fan signed up to MUST is far more important than 1 million of those likes on myface. This football governance inquiry could and I am not saying it will (there is the smallest possibility, its tiny currently) allow us as fans to buy into the club. I’ve seen many fans say ’lets get one million fans and all put £10 in a pot’. We are already 10 steps ahead of you. Its called ‘withdrawnable share capital’ and in 2006 it had over £2m in it and MUST has increased its membership by over 100,000 in well under one year. I’ve got a sizeable amount of cash in the fund, alot more than just £10. Sign Up To MUST, stick £10 in and get every United fan you know to do the same or just sign up free and wait for that email to do so. If it doesn’t come, it doesn’t come but atleast you knew you weren’t one of the 8.9 Million who wasn’t ready.
We’ve known for a long time there have been problems in football. To do with debt, ownership and on the first day of the inquest from a man who was the boss of The FA, we now know why. The Premier League works for the interests of its chairmen. It aims to keep them all happy so if David Gill says ‘the glazers own this club you keep it that way’ they’ll do there best to see The FA or anyone else can’t do anything. The FA tried once before and they got scared. Now they do as the EPL tell them. The only action they’ll take is against the odd player, to make it look like they are in charge. In reality if The FA says we want to remove all debt. The EPL will say no you won’t. The FA then goes off and crys in the corner. The FA run English Football, they are the governing body. If they put rules in place for the good of the game, all leagues should accept them. The FA is only worried about England getting banned why because that’s how its board make their cash. Shirts sales, ticket sales. Lets get one thing very very clear. The England Football Team is the last place on Earth that should be treated like Tescos. Its the national team and if takes England getting banned for the board to work this out, that will be good for football. You cannot have a governing body, which works more like a business, than a governing body. The same can be said for Fifa in areas. The FA is their to govern football. It has in the past found out many of the issues the government is discussing but has not been allowed to carry them out. UFEA and Fifa have power, The FA has none. Its why on many an issue the FA doesn’t do anything, that’s also true for matters on the pitch. They should find issues, find the solutions and put in new rules. That is The FA’s job, if it cannot do that, huge changes need to happen. Forced Changes.
Your now thinking this is going to be about how Manchester United should have spent big money to compete with other clubs and next your going to think I am going to ramble on about how we should have. Infact this is the true story not only of past transfer windows but future ones to come. It all starts back in the Summer of 2009, when a certain club called Real Madrid decided to to splash the cash. At the very time I was on the other side of the world in San Francisco, so if anyone was unconnected and shocked by that weeks events it was myself. I went off one morning and found a Starbucks with wireless internet, put the BBC news page up and there it was Kaka had just moved to Madrid. Afew days later I woke up with a text message saying ‘Ronaldos been sold to Madrid’. I never get messages about football news stories, so for this to be sent means its big news. At that time I am thinking. ‘We’ve just built a great squad, we’ve been in two champions league finals, so why the hell are we cutting it up’ I was also thinking something else and this has always stuck in my mind. They’ve told all the season ticket holders as a ploy, just days before the renewal deadline ‘Ronaldo would not be sold’, all just to sell season tickets, then just after it our best player & the best player in the World is sold off. So I get back to Manchester afew days later and the world to me has gone totally nuts.
This is where the business side of the story comes in. All the figures given are true straight from United’s official accounts. In June 2009 United sold Ronaldo in a £80m deal. In January 2010 it was also reported United had already been paid £35.9m from AON from the new £80m sponsorship deal. This shows up on past accounts. So those two big payments of money are around £116m. In May United was to have reported £95m in cash in the bank, later on it was £162m, and the latest now is £151m in cash in the bank. At this point everything sounds brilliant £150m in the bank, happy days. The problem is of the £80m in the sponsorship deal United have already received £47m. When you add the Ronaldo money to this that’s £127m of £151m cash in the bank. If you are reading that like I am, without the two AON payments and without Ronaldo money since June 2009 the club has only been able to create extra £24m or £35.8m in cash if you take out 2010s payment. To me that’s pretty worrying. With all the prize money, TV money, extra sponsorship deals and increased ticket prices, it shows there is a very good reason why the club hasn’t seen alot of movement in the transfer market. This is not to say the market isn’t over valued, in areas it is. Some of the figures that have been paid out for certain players by City, Chelsea, Villa and Liverpool have been very silly. The reason Manchester United haven’t been out and got a £20-30m player isn’t because they can’t, its because if they do that money is then gone and to recoup that money could in theory take 12-18 months or longer just to get back £30m. One other area shows that at one stage cash reserves reached £162m but then dropped by £12m, so this shows any budget changes or increased costs within the club could have a big effect. The biggest problem I see is if United went out and spent £115m tomorrow on either the stadium or the team, there is only a £35m gap for the budget to be increased, once over that you need an overdraft or you need to find another source of income quick. Remember this is football and alot can happen in a short space of time. This to me is alot more shocking and alot more worrying than any debt and the problem in part is the debt. If United removed the interest payments that gap goes from £35m to £80m. Now I am pretty sure if that was the case, the club would have more access to the transfer market and there would be more value. The fact is until that £45m interest payment is removed and the Government recommends we get a share in our clubs, we are unlikely to see any increase in transfer spending outside of the Ronaldo money at Manchester United in years to come. When the Ronaldo Money is spent, that’s it, that’s the reason it’s not been touched and it won’t be touched.
Love United Hate Glazer
Heres an odd one, a post on a future position. I normally look at the business side and the governing side of football but this to me is very important. Its an issue which everyone will have a say on and it needs to be correct. Who ever is picked at first won’t be the right player for some people. Others will think a keeper from within the club should take over the Number One shirt but I don’t see it like that. If the perfect goal keeper costs nothing or £20m, Fergie needs to pick who he thinks is correct. If he’s not satisfied we’ll know.
Since 1991 we’ve seen many come and go but there are only three who have played over 100 games since that date. Edwin Van Der Sar, Fabien Barthez and Schmeichel. One of those in many peoples eyes won’t be considered what Ferguson was really after. So in the last 20 years most people and fans would say Van Der Sar and Schmeichel have been the two stand out truly world keepers. I don’t think Kuszczak is in the same class as either of those two. For those who think he could be I’d just ask this. ‘If he was going to be number one, why as yet has he not taken Van Der Sar’s number one shirt? or been told he will get it?’ Lindegaard is the only other choice in the side currently who could take it and until now hes totally unproven. At 26 years of age, there are many others in a better position and you can’t call him a youth team player. My view is its unlikely to be either of these two but Ferguson might know better.
Youth can work but you only have to look at Arsenal to see how they’ve messed it up. United can’t take that chance if they want to compete at top level. It can be the difference between winning or losing. Champions League is a key area which proves this. Very demanding games which can go 1:0 either way. United need an experienced keeper, someone who has been in the big games, it doesn’t matter if they have lost or won the big games. Our top two have been on the larger side. Tall keepers with great range and for Van Der Sar great ball control. So who do United go for? From the Spanish, Russian, German and Dutch leagues take your pick. There are many young and already experienced goal keepers who in theory should do a job. As ever its never guaranteed but you always have to take a chance with anyone you sign.
Interms of targets many names have been mentioned. Some daft ones like Reina and Buffon. One is scouse, we aren’t giving them £20m for anyone. The other has had a host of injury problems and hasn’t featured in the Juventus side this season. I can’t see him leaving that club. David De Gea is one player who for many is mentioned and at 20 years old will Ferguson go with that youth? For me he’d be a great signing but maybe he’d be better progressing where he currently is. Stekelenburg or Neuer would for me be better targets and as United have never signed a German player it could be time to do so. Stekelenburg is Dutch, hes tall, hes very experienced and is a top keeper. United have had Dutch players in the past. A keeper at 28 years old isn’t old for me. That’s prime age. Its very easy to get another 10 or so years out of Stekelenburg. If he could do what Edwin has done, any cash spent would not be wasted. You could say ‘value’ has finally been found.