Saturday, May 29

Everything Will Be Alright

The year I bought my first United shirt - or rather my dad bought me my first United shirt - was 1991. I was aged 5, illiterate to the world around me. A year later marked the beginning of the Premier League, alongside the growing prominence of Sky Sports, as the game of football over time became big business for all those involved.

Some clubs had the marketing prowess to take advantage of national and international TV rights, some hadn't. Mine most certainly did - and does - as the global brand of Manchester United went on to rival that of the New York Yankees. The club was, until 2005, running as a public limited company, meaning that if a rich Florida businessman wanted to take us over by way of borrowing lots and lots of money, he could. And then he did, sticking us 'about' £600m in the red, as it were.

Big football clubs, sorry corporations, tend to live in herds of debt. Tesco, Marks & Spencer, ITV. It's obviously not ideal but as long as it's controlled, the rules don't disagree. My team's owners, if they were real bastards, could have therefore hiked up ticket prices and prevented the team manager from purchasing big-money signings. But they really haven't. Earlier this year, they sorted a bond issue which will handle the club's debt until 2017. Not only that, but we've won everything under the sun since the take-over.

United are in good shape, being one of the best run businesses in the West, making transfers Fergie wants, agreeing new sponsorship deals, competing as one of the best on the European stage. So when those stupid green-and-gold scarves started popping up in and around Old Trafford, it was odd. Especially considering the debt wasn't exactly news, and it all spun off from the bond issue announcement, which is essentially a good thing.

"It is ironic that the protests gathered momentum after an event that put the financing structure of the club on a better footing," David Gill told yesterday's Independent. And the scarves? "I think that minority will go away. I see people from Asia walking out of the megastore with a red-and-white scarf and they just assume they (green-and-gold ones) are official scarves and go and buy one. I think there is an element of that. A lot of people understand what it means but a lot of them don't."

But it isn't just the club's faraway fans that don't understand what they mean. Old Trafford on matchdays has recently been a sea of these uneducated, bandwagon-jumping morons. However, they're still attending, which only raises their lack of know-all even further. If you were truly angry against your team's owners, why put money in your club's pockets every week by paying for a ticket?! Why not go and watch FC United of Manchester?! It's like they want to have their cake and eat it, too.

I'm pretty much repeating previous blogs here. But today was a kind of landmark for those who, like me, really don't mind the Glazers. They're not the devil. They want the absolute best for United, and there's been no reason to believe otherwise since they bought us. But today was huge because the senseless collective who thought they could somehow wangle up enough dough to purchase - and run - the biggest sporting organisation on the planet were struck by the debt decreasing by a good £20m.

But really, it's not even about who's behind the scenes. For me, unless the manager or team's success is negatively impacted, red-and-white is where it starts and finishes.

Related posts:
Bias Bias Coverage (28/5/10)
Common Sense Talks (22/5/10)
Don't Let It Be Too Late (9/5/10)
I Swear I Knew It All Along (24/3/10)
Love United, Don't Mind Glazer (16/3/10)
We're In This Together (26/1/10)

The Killers 'Everything Will Be Alright'