Sir Alex F Word talks… sometimes. He talks with Ed Miliband, and he talks to Manchester United’s own TV channel (mostly) but because he didn’t like the way some of the media reported his comments after the Man U/ Liverpool game he stopped talking to the press.
He already doesn’t talk to the BBC, and so incurs regular fines from the EPL who make talking to the media part of the deal for all clubs.
Sir F Word is a regular at this sort of activities and of course each time he does it, the whole thing gets to look a little more childish. But maybe there is something else going on at the same time. A wider picture perhaps?
Liverpool are bust, bankrupt, kapput, in court, and maybe about to lose their current favourite buyer, just like they lost the last six – this time because a nine point deduction is a possibility. Man U normally snort at such mismanagement, reporting that they are a highly profitable club (ignoring the fact that they happen to spend their income on supporting some American guys borrowings).
Now David Gill has had to do a double conjuring trick by saying that everything is wonderful despite £83.6m of losses, and the need to pay ever more into the interest fund which keeps the £521.7m debt and the bond issue charges afloat.
Gill argued that the results were “very good” and showed that Man U could cover their £40.2m interest payments.
So what is keeping Man U afloat? At the moment money from TV is rising and they are still edging up the commercial revenue by going into overseas sponsorship. But in the end it has to end. It could be because Man U has a bad season. It could be because they get Arsenal-scale injuries. It could be because foreign players stop wanting to play in the EPL because there is too much danger to their safety, and a chance they might never play again.
The fact is that in today’s football world there is very little margin for error. Arsenal has built a margin into their position, allowing the club to drop out of the top four occasionally, and allowing the attendances to drop, all without disaster striking.
But that is what Man U don’t have. When Gill said, “I can’t speak for any other club but the United fans should not be concerned, we have a long-term financing structure in place, excellent revenues that are growing, we are controlling our costs – total wages are 46% of turnover – and we can afford the interest on our long-term finance,” he was basically talking gibberish, because of the ever increasing demands on the debts of the Glazer Gang who own the club, and who raid the club to pay for its earnings. And because the future is never certain.
The Gang paid out £47m in charges relating to the bond issue. Not interest just charges. Plus £19.2m hit on foreign exchange differences relating to the bond issue and something called a “goodwill” charge of £35.2m relating to the original takeover. (What the hell was that???)
Gill deals with these by calling them “paper losses” and “depreciation”. And I suppose in just the same way as if a fiver drops out of my back pocket and falls down a drain that could be called a paper loss. But not in a real world. In the real world I just lost the chance to buy a beer and packet of crisps.
Which takes me back to Sir F-Word’s lack of rant. His silence comes because in the end he knows he is working for a bunch of people whose actions are indefensible. Whatever we, as Arsenal fans, say about him, he has been an utterly brilliant manager. But now his position must be questioned, because he continues to work for the Glazer Gang who have raped the club he has rebuilt from its sleepy stage.
He may say it is all about the issue of interpretations of comments, but really, he knows. The ramblings of Gill – a man who himself opposed the entry of the Glazers – are the ramblings of a man who is watching the castle burn down, while saying that the fire makes a good setting for a BBQ.
Man U are in a crisis of giant proportions, and saying everything is wonderful (as per Gill), and saying nothing at all (as per Sir F Word) are approaches which are pretty much as silly as each other.
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