The worst thing about being a Manchester United fan at the moment, or a fan of any apparently declining club, is the feeling of having no control whatsoever and no apparent way of influencing the way the club is run. Ed Woodward says we have enough funds available to make a world record signing and, confidently, tells United fans to “watch this space” but that was weeks ago.
Another is the conflicting facts. For example, I know everyone at Manchester United wants the club and the team on the pitch to do well. I also know the owners, the Glazers, are business men first and foremost and will almost always value the financial impact of a transfer over the perceived influence it could have on the team’s footballing success. If they don’t believe a footballer the United manager wants represents good value for money, I believe they will be stubborn and refuse to pay which seems to be happening not for the first time, this summer.
This is where the issue of them running the football club like a business comes in. Clubs don’t come first in the league by having no debt and the healthiest-looking balance sheet. Look at Real Madrid and Barcelona.
To update my knowledge on the finances of Los Merengues I read this article from The Guardian Real Madrid are €590m in debt so how do they get round Uefa finance rules? and this article from the Bleacher Report James Rodriguez Signing Latest Example of Real Madrid’s Wasteful Spending.
The Guardian article, written just over a year ago, before Gareth Bale made his £77m/£85.3m (depending on whether you believe the Spanish press or the English press) move to Madrid on September 1, wrote Los Blancos were in debt by 590m euros while the Bleacher Report article, written on July 22, 2014, just after James Rodriguez made his 80m euro-move to the same club, wrote Madrid still have debts of 541m euros.
I am not suggesting Manchester United should irresponsibly throw money at players and put ourselves in even more debt than the Glazers burdened us with as soon as they rolled up but money in the bank does nothing to help us beat City in the derby.
We have recently taken on yet more eye-catching sponsorship deals, the £75m-a-year (over ten years) Adidas kit sponsorship deal comes in to force next season, so surely we can afford to strengthen where we need to without attracting any suggestions of approaching the “wastefulness” of Real Madrid.
Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, is well known for his penny pinching ways. In the Guardian article I linked, it refers to him saying it is a “joke” Real Madrid could spend so much on Bale in a year when financial fair play came in to effect.
Wenger has endured years of seeing the top players in the world veer out of reach as he oversaw the building of a new stadium and bringing his club in to a position where they could buy players with self-generated funds. It is admirable but can Manchester United fans put up with a similarly long and dry spell without a trophy?
He said: “It makes a joke of the financial fair play regulations. I find it amazing that in the year the regulations come in, world football has gone completely crazy. You wonder what kind of impact and effect financial fair play has on the football world. It looks like it has made everybody worse than before.”
Arsenal began their 2014/15 Premier League campaign with a last minute win against Crystal Palace yesterday (Saturday, August 16) playing characteristically eye-pleasing football and after the £30-35m purchase of Alexis Sanchez, with apparently self-generated funds, the North London side have a balanced, strong-looking squad (despite being arguably light up front), one many United fans are probably envious of.
I am a bit tight with money myself, my parents always taught me the value of each pound, and I am happy Man United aren’t apparently folding after being held to ransom by clubs BUT there comes a time when you just have to put your money where your mouth is and pay the price for that world class player or two you desperately need to stand any chance of competing for the silverware United fans have become so used to.