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Utd a ticking time bomb, warns top businessman
Published : 15 Jan 2010 09:34:13
UNITED have been described as a ticking time bomb by one of Manchester's most prominent businessmen. Salford bookie Fred Done believes investors would be mad to buy into the Glazers £500m bonds scheme, designed to ease the club's mammoth debt. The lifelong United fan, who made his millions through his BetFred franchise, also revealed his fears that: :: CITY will soon be the premier club in Manchester :: UNITED could be on the verge of becoming the next Portsmouth :: SIR Alex Ferguson will not be given the funds to undergo desperately-needed squad strengthening :: CROWDS and sponsorship will start to fall Done was as disturbed as most United supporters when the full extent of the club's debt was revealed on Monday. Despite increases in matchday, media and commercial revenue, it took the world record £80m sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to prevent them from making a loss of £31.8m. That is largely due to the £42m paid in interest on a £509m loan. The Glazers are now looking to raise £500m in bonds, while intimating that both Old Trafford and their Carrington training base could be sold and leased back to make even more money. Done view Done said: "Every time I've seen sale and lease back plans it's meant the company is in trouble. You don't sell the family silver. "From what I can see, the Glazers have not put any value on the club since taking over. "When they finally cash in and sell up they will leave the club a poorer place than when they took over. "If we are not careful we could end up like another Portsmouth, who look like they are headed for administration." As the former official bookmaker at United, Done has enjoyed a close working relationship with both chief executive David Gill and Ferguson. He is also a season ticket holder and says he can already see the cracks appearing at Old Trafford. So much so that he would warn off any potential investors. "As a businessman, I wouldn't touch this time bomb with a bargepole," he said. "Just look at the empty executive boxes. I go every week and I can see people dropping away. "When could you ever buy tickets this close to a Manchester derby? But tickets are still on general sale for the Carling Cup semi-final." Done is particularly pained to admit that mega-rich City could be on the verge of eclipsing United after decades of dominance. "As a bookmaker I'd say it's odds on that City will be the premier club in Manchester in the next three years," he said. "I never thought I would see the day when I'd say that, but where is the money to invest in the team. "Sir Alex insists he has the funds to spend, but I think it is a smokescreen. I know him and David Gill very well and believe they are both fantastic at their jobs. But I think both are being forced to work with their hands tied behind their backs." What do you think? Have your say.