MANCHESTER UNITED supporters have hailed the Glazer family’s decision to pay off £220m of costly payment-in-kind loans (PIK), removing a potential drain on the indebted club’s resources, as a victory for fans.
But they have urged the Glazers to show greater transparency in their running of the Premier League outfit. United said yesterday no money had been taken from the club to pay off the loans, but mystery remains over how the Americans funded the move.
The move comes after months of unrest among fans worried that more than £700m of debt had started to make United uncompetitive, a fear heightened by wrangling over Wayne Rooney’s new contract. A mooted takeover bid by the wealthy consortium the Red Knights abated, but season ticket sales suffered.
Duncan Drasdo, a spokesman from the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST), told City A.M.: “It certainly shows that the supporters have been rewarded and the message to them has to be to keep the pressure on the owners.
“It seemed as if the Glazers were just waiting for the animosity towards them to calm down. Obviously, the Wayne Rooney contract situation meant the heat has been kept right on them and this news has to be seen as a victory and a step in the right direction.
“It’s time now for the Glazers to reveal their plans, show some transparency and give the fans the assurances they’re after. It’s certainly not celebration time though. We still don’t know exactly where the money to pay off this loan has come from.”
United responded to fevered debate over how the Glazers would fund the move by releasing a brief statement denying money had been taken from the club. It read: “The board notes recent press speculation. The board can confirm that there has been no dividend of club cash.”
The remaining options would appear to be that they have either sold a stake in the club, or taken another loan at a better rate than the 16.25 per cent payable on the PIK.
News of the move came as United released quarterly figures showing a drop in losses compared to the same period last year, from £7.7m to £4.9m. United’s debts now stand at £509.4m, with a cash balance of £151.7m according to the figures, which run up to the end of September.
The Glazers, who also own NFL franchise the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had their wealth estimated at £1.6bn by Forbes magazine two months ago.