Manchester United is making financial news as the club attempts to deal with its large debt.
The Guardian recently reported that United have nailed down a new loan from Bank of America which will reduce their interest costs by about £10 million a year. The deal cuts United’s total debt to £370 million and offers an estimated interest rate of 2.78 percent—dropping the interest dues from £31 million to £21 million per year.
This financial restructuring follows a recent trend of United doing its best to cut down its debt.
Malcolm Glazer, head of United’s American ownership group, significantly reduced the club’s financial hole by using the proceeds from a public offering at the New York City Stock Exchange in August 2012, according to Sports Illustrated.
The Glazers chose to go public in New York as opposed to Singapore, Hong Kong or London, largely to take advantage of the “Jumpstart Our Business Startups” program created by the Obama administration in April 2012, per the Wall Street Journal.
Known as the “Jobs Act,” the new law sought to make going public in the U.S. more appealing for smaller companies by reducing the costs of doing so.
Their public offering was a critical reason for the 16 percent decrease in debt United enjoyed at the time, cutting their total from about £572 million to about £370 million.
The Glazers took over ownership of Manchester United in 2005, a move that forced the family to borrow a significant amount of cash and take on a hefty load of debt. In fact, The Wall Street Journal article mentioned above reports that the Glazer’s purchased Manchester United for £1.47 billion—much of which was borrowed through bonds.
At the time, the move to rely heavily on debt concerned fans and players who wondered if United would struggle to compete for top-transfer targets. However, legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson was supportive of the new owners.
According to The Guardian, critics of the Glazer regime had particular fodder to work with in 2010, when the club recorded operating profits over £100 million for the first time in its history, thanks mostly to commercial revenues and an uptick in match day broadcasting.
Despite the ballooned operating profits, the club recorded an overall financial loss because of the bond debts owed by the Glazers.
So the financial restructuring with Bank of America by Manchester United is a fascinating topic in world football. How they manage financially will be of particular interest going forward, considering UEFA’s new Financial Fair Play rules, too.
Regardless, their restructuring is certainly a step in the right direction in regards to the club's financial issues. Cutting debt, winning trophies and making sure the club follows the financial rules are just some of the factors the Glazers must balance as Manchester United heads towards the future.
The retirement of Sir Alex might well devalue the franchise, also—another factor the Glazers must deal with in regards to their debt.
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