Gill: United have long-term strategy
Chief executive David Gill has told fans not to fear Manchester United going down the same road as Liverpool despite losses of £83.6million. Fans' group Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST) say the "clock is ticking" on the Glazer family's ownership of United and that a similar outcome to Liverpool could arise but that is denied by the club's senior executive. 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. "In our opinion if something changed in the ownership this club will survive and continue - it is covering the financing cost more than adequately. "We still have cash to invest in players and to give good contracts to players and we are comfortable with the business model." Gill also insisted there is no pressure to sell star players such as Wayne Rooney and that the club would still prefer to have "Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch than £80million in the bank". He added: "We are not a club that needs to sell. We have money in the bank so there is zero pressure on that, no pressure at all to sell any star player whether it is Wayne Rooney or X,Y or Z. I can categorically say that. "There was no desire at all from anyone at the club to sell Cristiano - he wanted to go and as a result we managed to extract a world record fee. "These philosophy is to retain and attract the best players. We have £165million in the bank but in some ways we would prefer to have £80million in the bank and Ronaldo on the pitch." Although United's group operating profit topped £100.7million, after player-related costs, interest payments and a number of expensive one-off costs related to the bond issue, overall there was a record loss for the club. Gill admitted the figures could be confusing to fans but that they had been distorted by a number of one-off payments relating to the bond scheme. He added that United's balance sheet includes £165million remaining in the bank if Sir Alex Ferguson wants to buy new players. The figures show that United's wage bill rose by 7% to £131.7million, while United's overall debt rose to £521.7million. It may also appease some critics that according to the figures, the Glazers have not taken any money out of the club to pay any of their £200million-worth of PIK notes that are now attracting interest at 16.25%. Gill added: "They have retained that money in the bank and it's there for Sir Alex if he needs it for players, and for investing in the training ground and the stadium." The Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST) claimed the results highlighted how well off United would be without the interest payments. A MUST spokesman said: "Imagine how successful we could be without the millstone that is the Glazers' ownership. "Under a supporter ownership model, or even the debt-free plc model prior to the Glazers takeover, this huge revenue stream could largely be reinvested in the football club (squad, stadium, ticket prices) rather than being leached out by the Glazers." MUST said the club was now "extremely vulnerable" if there was any fall in revenue. The spokesman added: "When Sir Alex retires the chances of maintaining anything like the same level of success look remote without massive investment. So the clock is ticking for the Glazers - and for the supporters too."
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