May 07, 2007

Glazers first Americans to win EPL.: Manchester United CEO hails new owners for helping United win the EPL (one week before the end of the season at that - thanks to Arsenal). Wow, the Glazers have won premier championships on two continents. Hey, Liverpool's new American owners, pay attention!

posted by worldcup2002 to soccer at 10:37 AM - 18 comments

Ahh, I recall this thread about the Glazers and the fan outrage.

posted by bperk at 11:14 AM on May 07, 2007

At least there are no trebles involved.

posted by trox at 04:16 PM on May 07, 2007

There could still be the double! The club is still up to their neck in debt. Thanks to Glazer's takeover. At least one of the fears of United supporters is being realized - higher ticket prices next season. I really cannot help but gloat, having beaten Chelsea to the title. After they spent a gazillion quid on Shevchenko and getting Ballack by paying him another gazillion a week. There's only ONE United!

posted by georgieB at 05:14 PM on May 07, 2007

Rumor is Sheva and Ballack are on the chopping block due to "extreme responses" to their recent injuries, which took them away from the team for too long at a time in the campaign. However, if Mourinho loses the FA Cup, I'm expecting he'll be gone before he gets a chance to sell any players. btw, gotta love this quote by Liverpool CEO Rick Parry after the Reds dumped Chelsea out of the Champion's League: "I guess when you've invested 500m it's a fantastic season to win the League Cup. He's welcome to his opinions, we care about Liverpool." Ha!

posted by worldcup2002 at 05:28 PM on May 07, 2007

georgie, do you think that ticket prices would have been the same next season without the Glazer takeover? Because when I studied economics prices were based on what the market will bear rather than a direct correlation with costs.

posted by billsaysthis at 08:41 PM on May 07, 2007

United went from having no debt to having 660m in debt when Glazer took over. I don't think that there's any doubt that United's fanbase can bear a 14% rise in ticket prices, (especially the new fans they'll gain by winning another title), but I feel that the rise is primarily due to the debt transferred to the club after the buy out was completed. Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton are freezing their prices, with Toffees fans able to get 10% off if they buy their ticket early. Aston Villa, Blackburn, Bolton and Wigan are cutting their prices. I think the current focus on Premier League and FA Cup ticket pricing, (to the point where it was mentioned by Mr Blair, no less), and the peer pressure from the other clubs freezing or lowering their prices, would have left United finding it difficult to push up their prices so drastically. I wouldn't have been surprised to see a small rise this year, but with 50m a year required just to service the debt I think the size of the price hike has to be put down to the bizarre situation where United have to pay back the money with which they were bought.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 08:25 AM on May 08, 2007

Billy, ticket prices might or might not have been the same next season if the Glazers didn't take over the club and saddled it with THEIR debts. But I'm sure United would have taken into consideration the actions of the other clubs in freezing or lowering their ticket prices. One of the concerns voiced by United's Supporters Group was that ticket prices would go up if the Glazers took over, and it has. It might have something to do with economics but it has everything to do with paying back the banks. With that in mind, this United bandwagon has space for everybody! Hop on up and don't forget to buy them shirts next year! Those that say Barclay's Premiership Champions!

posted by georgieB at 01:01 PM on May 08, 2007

It might have something to do with economics but it has everything to do with paying back the banks. Right, which is why bill's point is the one that matters: whatever ticket price maximizes revenues is the one they will use, regardless of the cost to run the team.

posted by yerfatma at 01:12 PM on May 08, 2007

At least there are no trebles involved. Why? Was there some kind of trouble with trebles?

posted by HATER 187 at 01:14 PM on May 08, 2007

Just out of curiosity for UK-types or other non-Americans out there (with the hopes of not derailing the conversation too much) -- is the leveraged buyout not a common acquisition vehicle in the UK? Is there a big aversion to debt financing generally? I only ask because I see a lot of reference made to the debt that the club has assumed in connection with Glazer's takeover, something you almost never hear about in large-scale U.S. business transactions, many or most of which are financed by debt. I'm not sure how much that approach is reflected in the U.S. sports market, but I don't recall seeing as big a deal made of sports teams purchasers' financial arrangements in the U.S. as abroad and am just trying to figure out why.

posted by holden at 01:43 PM on May 08, 2007

Not to answer my own question -- but I am guessing that the factors of (a) relegation, and (b) penalties for going into bankruptcy, both of which are largely not present in most U.S. sports, increase the potential magnitude of harm arising from certain risks associated with debt financing.

posted by holden at 02:06 PM on May 08, 2007

Man Utd used to have one of the cheaper season ticket prices in the Premiership, perhaps surprisingly considering they have the most fans and the highest demand for those tickets. However, since the Glazers took over that's all out of the window what with the huge debt to be serviced, and there seems to be a desire to adopt the traditional football pricing strategy of milking the supporters for all they can afford. Shame really, but then I never had much time for United fans, seeing as many of them are such graceless, arrogant feckers.

posted by squealy at 02:07 PM on May 08, 2007

I just have difficulty understanding how Manchester United was being run before if maximimizing revenues wasn't the goal. A publicly-traded company that doesn't maximize revenue? I have never heard of such a thing!

posted by bperk at 02:40 PM on May 08, 2007

As I understand it, even the higher ticket prices are still much lower than for many other teams. I think the modest rise in prices is merely a reflection of keeping up with the rest of the market. (Even though Arsenal and Blackburn froze ticket prices, the freeze points are still more than it costs for a ticket to Old Trafford.) As for American ownership, I'm finding myself undecided on it, especially as Stan Kroenke seems to have the team I support Arsenal, in his sights. I'd much prefer that the club not take on any more debt, since the stadium generated enough of that. That said, a few more dollars for the transfer market to allow Arsenal to compete with Chelsea, Liverpool, and ManU would be welcome. I suppose I'm just waiting for more facts to come out.

posted by trox at 03:43 PM on May 08, 2007

Trox, beware of these Americans looking to buy up Premiership clubs. I don't think any of them have any idea or respect for the English game. They're just in there to make a buck. United was doing fine before the Glazers came in. They had just expanded Old Trafford's capacity to 76,000. They made a modest profit every year and they were debt free. But after the takeover, United has this axe hanging over their head.

posted by georgieB at 04:02 PM on May 09, 2007

I'm generally resistant to change for just those reasons. That said, I'm not going to totally say I'm against anything without hearing a word from the guy. And Peter Hill Wood hasn't been helping matters lately. Briefly, Dein's departure worries me more than anything else about this particular takeover.

posted by trox at 10:43 PM on May 09, 2007

I just have difficulty understanding how Manchester United was being run before if maximimizing revenues wasn't the goal. A publicly-traded company that doesn't maximize revenue? I have never heard of such a thing! I assume by that remark that you are not being ironic; ie, you must be a fellow American. Sports outside the USA is different: these are, or were, actual sports clubs we are talking about, not simply businesses, and certainly not "franchises". Think Green Bay Packers, times a thousand. These clubs have over a century of history in their local communities. Any money they make is supposed to go back into the game and running the club, not into the pockets of the owners, or into servicing debt that the owner used to acquire the club. The sports club isn't thought of as an ordinary business over there; it does not matter if the club had publicly traded shares or not. The club is thought of as a public institution. Club owners are caretakers, holding in trust something sacred that is considered to be owned in common by the fans and the local community, which is not something that the owner should think he can do with as he wills, without regard to the feelings of the fans or community. That's what a lot of American sports fans don't "get". If the Glazers pay off the debt quickly and keep running Manchester United at the high level the club has always been run at, great. But I understand why fans over there don't trust the Glazers.

posted by dave2007 at 12:44 AM on May 12, 2007

Dave, your argument would hold more water if so many of the clubs weren't publicly traded these days, or the plaything of an immensely wealthy owner.

posted by billsaysthis at 03:16 PM on May 12, 2007

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