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Manchester United go into credit

In 2005 Manchester United were debt-free, built a 76,000 stadium and were the "richest club in the world" before the Glazers in a hostile takeover saddled the club with their own borrowings, and neither the Football Association nor the Premier League raised an eyebrow.

The cost of servicing that debt in terms of interest charges and bankers' fees for restructuring to date has been more than £500m.

The Glazers have now registered United in the Cayman Islands to assist with the latest attempt to float shares to raise cash and plan to trade on the New York Stock Exchange, but will still maintain control with the terms of the issue. Investors will be invited to buy A shares in the Cayman Islands holding company that carry less voting rights than the owners.

The latest accounts show the club's debt at £423m and despite chief executive, David Gill insisting the debt and interest burden has not damaged the club's ability to invest in Sir Alex Ferguson's team the club ended without a trophy in 2011/12 season. In 2012/13 United may regain the Premier League title and get to the latter stages of the Champions League if not win it, falling short though will raise questions if all the cash raised goes just to pay off the debt.

UK investors have been badly burned on football flotations before but United's global brand will interest potential US investors.

United's global support, reported as 659 million people, is as strong as ever announcing last week that they will be re-launching its official UK credit card. 

Supporters who use the card will be entitled to 10 per cent discounts at the club's Megastore and Red Cafe at its Old Trafford home, as well as in its online store, and a 20 per cent discount on stadium and museum tours. They will also be entered into a special prize draw for every £50 they spend using the card

Could this be a smoke screen to the share issue? Fans will get behind Ferguson's team and success is down to the "Boss" failure is down the "Chairman" (the Glazers), football never changes.  

DE
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