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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Glazers hit back over United debt claims

The Glazer family have strongly denied that Manchester United's debts are spiralling out of control.

A report from the Manchester United Supporters Trust, due to be released tomorrow, claims that the club's interest payments have increased by £28million this year.

It also claims that increased TV revenue and money from a new shirt sponsorship deal with AIG is being used to service debts.

But a Glazer family spokesman this morning dismissed the report saying: 'The story is inaccurate. Nothing has changed. The debts continue to be comfortably serviced by the business, which is performing better than ever.

'As always there have been substantial funds for the manager to purchase players over the summer.'

The Manchester United Supporters Trust have challenged the Glazer family to 'open up the books to independent scrutiny' amid claims that the club's debts are spiralling out of control.

A publication from the MUST, due to be released tomorrow, claims the interest payments of the Old Trafford club have increased by £28million this year.

A statement from MUST released to PA Sport read: 'The Glazers' claim that 'nothing has changed' is laughable. Why then were they forced to cancel plans to refinance some of the debt this summer? Have interest rates not gone up? Has the global credit crunch not begun to bite?

'The Glazers' debt is tied into LIBOR [the London Interbank Offered Rate], and if the economics of the world change, then debt changes.

'Furthermore, our calculations are based on the Glazers' own refinancing documents of 2006, which were signed by Joel Glazer himself. If they wish to dispute the figures, then let them open up the books to independent scrutiny.

'Let the Glazers bring their own figures out and we would be happy to be proved wrong and for the club to be shown to be less debt-laden than we think it is.'

The statement continued: 'The facts are simple: there is a vast debt of £660m hanging over the club, which carries with it vast interest rates and annual repayment demands of up to £100m, whilst ticket prices have risen astronomically in each of the last three seasons under the Glazers.

'Money for players has either been offset by sales, or has had payment schedules spread way into the future, with little money offered up front.'

The statement concluded: 'The team did wonderfully last season, and we're delighted, but sticking our heads in the sand about what's happening off the pitch would do a grave disservice to those marvellous efforts.'

United have spent heavily since the end of last season, recruiting Owen Hargreaves, Carlos Tevez, Nani and Anderson, and Sir Alex Ferguson has not been restricted in the transfer market since the Glazers completed their £790m takeover in 2005.

United fans have been hit with a 14% rise in ticket prices this season but the club has to fund rising player salary demands and keep stars like Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand at Old Trafford.

The Trust report claims that the Glazer family 'continue to face an extraordinary and growing debt problem'.

The report states that since last year's refinancing, United and the Glazers have been faced with 'a series of interest rate rises which have increased the annual debt service bill from £62m a year on the total debt of £660m.

'The interest bill is currently an annualised £100m-plus, of which £73m is payable this year and the other £27m in the future - a ticking debt time-bomb.'

Reports have emerged over recent weeks of potential buyers for United based in China and Dubai but the Glazers have stressed that they have no interest in selling and are completely committed to the club. Read more...