Sir Alex Ferguson denies Manchester United's £699m debt has affected his spending power

08 January 2010 06:07
He claims that his reluctance to spend the club's £80 million Cristiano Ronaldo windfall is purely because he has not found a player he wants at a price he is prepared to pay.

The Glazer family, United's owners, are understood to be investigating the feasibility of a bond issue to alleviate the club's debt burden, which saw an annual profit of £72 million almost wiped out by interest payments of £69 million in 2008.

 Related ArticlesNemanja Vidic faces 10-day lay-off with calf injuryFerguson: Neville retirement 'a load of nonsense'Birmingham v Man Utd: match previewFerguson heaps praise on McLeishTransfer TalkSport on televisionSince the Glazers completed their leveraged takeover of United in May 2005, Ferguson has spent a net £32.4 million on new players an average of just £6.48 million a season.

And having sold Ronaldo to Real Madrid for a world-record £80 million last summer, Ferguson's subsequent spending of just £23 million on Antonio Valencia, Gabriel Obertan, Michael Owen and Mame Biram Diouf has prompted supporters to accuse the Glazers of banking transfer funds to help meet interest payments rather than bolster the squad.

But while conceding that his failure to recruit a top-quality striker last summer has left United short of cover should leading scorer Wayne Rooney suffer an injury, Ferguson insists that he has money to spend and that the club's debt does not impact on his transfer dealings.

Ferguson said supporters' concerns "are down to the fact that I haven't moved in the transfer market, but that's nothing to do with the Glazers or [chief executive] David Gill. It's simply because I am not going to pay £50 million for a striker who is not worth it.

"I have got all the money I need. The money is available and, if I wanted to buy someone, I could get the money.

"I could easily have spent the Ronaldo money but I didn't want to do it because I couldn't see any value in the market."

With Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan writing off £304.9 million of personal loans to the club this week to effectively make the club debt free, United's bottom line has been brought into sharper focus.

Despite their debt, United remain the world's most valuable sporting brand worth £1.3 billion according to American business magazine Forbes.

And with the Glazers studying options to restructure the debt, Ferguson insists he is not worried by the club's financial state.

He said: "I don't have any concerns about the financial situation. There is absolutely no issue at all with the club's finances.

"There is debt there, but it has never interrupted my plans for the team at any stage.

"I have no issue at all. There has been talk about a bond issue and I think that's a good thing for the club. Anything that helps with the repayment of the debt is a good thing."

Karim Benzema's decision to leave Lyon for Real Madrid, rather than Old Trafford, last summer ensured that Ferguson missed out on his top target to replace Ronaldo.

The signings of Owen and Diouf who have since been handed the number 7 and 32 shirts vacated by Ronaldo and Carlos Tévez has left United without a top-rank forward alongside Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov.

And Ferguson admits that an injury to Rooney, who has scored 14 goals in 19 league games this season, could severely compromise United.

He said: "We don't have great options, if Rooney were to get injured, in the sense that we don't have top quality like Ronaldo, who could play anywhere. But, still, we're not too bad. And I think everyone is missing the point, anyway.

"The most important thing for this club, without a doubt, is to get our centre-backs fit again."

To that end, Ferguson has confirmed that Nemanja Vidic faces 10 days out with a calf problem, while Rio Ferdinand is two weeks from a return to full training.

Source: Telegraph