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Double blow for United as debts rise to £716m and FA probe Neville gesture

MANCHESTER United’s parent company saw its debts swell to £716.5m last year, increasing fears about the club’s financial safety.

Latest accounts for Red Football Joint Venture Ltd, which is owned by Old Trafford chiefs the Glazer family and secures its debts against the club, show that debts for the year ending 30 June 2009 grew by £17m.

The company paid out £68.5m in interest alone, and the biggest increase in the debt pile related to payment in kind loans, which saw in increase of £27m to £202m. Debt relating to bank loans fell £9m to £509m.

Red Football Join Venture recorded a profit of £6.4m, having lost £47m the previous year, although the improvement in largely attributable to the £80m sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid.

The Glazers last week confirmed they are launching a bond issue designed to refinance the vast debt they have accumulated since buying the Premier League champions for £790m in 2005.

Growing uncertainty over the club’s finances has led to increased speculation that manager Sir Alex Ferguson could be forced into selling England striker Wayne Rooney.

There was more bad news for United yesterday when the Football Association vowed to investigate gestures made by United substitute Gary Neville during Tuesday’s 2-1 Carling Cup defeat to Manchester City. Club captain Neville appeared to raise his middle finger at City striker Carlos Tevez as the Argentinian, who left United for their rivals last summer, celebrated the first of his two goals.

Despite the forward’s red-hot form, United winger Ryan Giggs said: “There are no regrets [that he left]. We know what Carlos is all about.”