By Jason Theodorou
The BBC’s Panorama programme has uncovered that the owners of Manchester United are £1.1 billion in debt, after allegedly borrowing against a shopping mall business which is now unable to keep up with its mortgage payments.
The Glazer family has justified its hold over Manchester United by pointing to their £2 billion in assets, and implying that the club is secure due to this lucrative business portfolio.
But the BBC found that their core business - the First Allied Corporation shopping malls in the US - was no longer able to keep up with mortgages totalling £395 million.
At least £700 million of debt is thought to be linked directly to the club, and some fear that this will prevent the club from investing in new star players in the coming years. The club’s management have denied this is true.
Fans are hostile to the American family's ownership of the club, which has seen a rise in ticket prices. The latest show of defiance by fans is the wearing of ‘green and gold’ scarves which homage the original team colors of Newton Heath, the club which became Manchester United.
United chief executive David Gill has previously said: ‘We’re very confident that the business model we have in place will ensure the club can continue to compete at the top of football, for many years to come... the owners have brought commercial expertise, and we have seen our revenues grow significantly’.
Manchester United is not alone in the Premier League in facing problems with debt — with clubs such as Liverpool managing large debts, and Portsmouth coming close to liquidation earlier in the year.
The Glazers released a statement in May which said: ‘The owners remain fully committed to their long term ownership of the club... Manchester United is not for sale, and the owners will not entertain any offers’.
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