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Revealed: The Glazer family's staggering 1.1billion debt that will stun Manchester United fans

07 Jun 2010 09:39:23

Revealed: The Glazer family's staggering 1.1billion debt that will stun Manchester United fans

The Glazer family's ability to keep control of Manchester United is in doubt again after it emerged the American owners are struggling with debts of £1.1billion. The revelations, to be made by BBC's Panorama programme on Tuesday night, expose £400million of previously unknown debt and cast more uncertainty over how much money manager Sir Alex Ferguson will be given to strengthen his squad this summer. Owners United: Sir Bobby Charlton meets (from left) Joel, Avram and Bryan Glazer The programme Man Utd - Into the Red centres on the Glazers' ailing shopping-mall empire, run by their company First Allied Corporation, and is based on the findings of City analyst Andy Green, a United supporter who has joined the anti-Glazer green and gold campaign. Green said: 'The Glazers have called the US property market appallingly badly. They borrowed more money at inflated valuations right at the top of the cycle. 'These are people who tell us not to worry about Manchester United debt because they are great businessmen. In their core business in the US they got it absolutely wrong.' Green found the Glazers owe almost £400m on mortgages on 63 of their 64 shopping malls. Many were taken out with Lehman Brothers before the company went bust, triggering the global recession in 2008. Green's findings also show that many of the malls fail to generate enough income to cover the mortgage, and he claims the Glazers have been so badly caught out by the collapse in US commercial property values that some of their properties are in negative equity. Close links: United chief executive David Gill with Avram Glazer The banks are so worried about the loans that 28 of First Allied's shopping centres have been put on a 'watch list', and Green discovered that four have gone bust in the last two years. On one property alone owned by First Allied -Crosswoods Commons in Columbus, Ohio - the Glazers have negative equity of more than £1.4m after the receiver who took control of the site in February admitted he was struggling to find a buyer in the recession and expects to sell for less than £1m. Green said: 'Around a quarter of them cannot pay the interest on their mortgages already. Another quarter are coming off interest-free deals and, when those interest-free deals end, those shopping centres won't be able to pay their mortgages either. 'So the whole thing adds up to a real cash-flow problem for the Glazer family.' As well as showing their present financial difficulties in America, the investigation also raises a question mark about the Glazers' takeover of United in 2005. The family borrowed £500m to buy the club and paid the remaining £272m in cash, but Green has discovered that they remortgaged 25 of their shopping centres in the six months before the takeover. He said: 'One has to ask: was the cash they put into Manchester United just debt, but from somewhere else?' The Glazers' leveraged buy-out of United has since plunged the club £700m into the red. Combined with the £70m the family owe against their NFL team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, news of First Allied's £400m debt pushes the total past the £1bn mark. The key issue hanging over the Glazers, say Panorama, is how they continue to service their debts. With some of United's payment in kind (PIK) loans soon to be charged at a toxic 16.25 per cent, it questions whether the Glazers can stay in control even though they maintain the club are not for sale in the face of public interest from the Red Knights consortium. The Glazers declined to comment about First Allied. A spokesman has said the family do have debts of at least £1bn but added they have assets worth more than double that.  Simple message: United fans make their feelings known in one of the many protests against the Glazers at Old Trafford last season However, Panorama also point out that Tampa Bay are in the bottom three of the NFL's wage table, while United have yet to make a major signing since Cristiano Ronaldo was sold to Real Madrid for £80m a year ago amid doubts over Ferguson's transfer budget. United claim the manager has access to up to £100m for new players, and chief executive David Gill has insisted the PIK repayments have nothing to do with the club. When asked about counter- claims by a Glazer source that the family may indeed use the club's money to pay off those loans in the future, a United spokesman said: 'The club stand by everything David Gill told BBC radio and that the PIKs have no recourse to the club's assets.' Neither the Premier League, the FA or new sports minister Hugh Robertson were willing to be interviewed by Panorama. But Wigan chairman Dave Whelan, who considered buying a majority stake in United for just £11m 20 years ago, said: 'I don't think anybody can be satisfied with how Manchester United are being run because we're talking of three-quarters of a billion pounds of debt. 'That can't be the right thing to do and cannot be the right thing for professional football in the UK.' Panorama: 'Man Utd - Into the Red' will be shown on BBC1 on Tuesday at 10.35pm.  Manchester United's finances under Glazer family to be investigated by BBC's PanoramaBirmingham new-boy Foster warns anti-Glazer protests will unsettle UnitedFormer Manchester United chairman slams Glazer's business planMANCHESTER UNITED FC


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