Today’s Guardian notes that United were bought by the US Glazer family for £810m ($1.3bn) in 2005, using £540m of debt. Since then, it says this debt has “cost United £340m in cash” in interest/fees. “Over £200m” of interest is also secured on the Glazers’ own shares, via PIK (payment in kind) loans at 14.25% interest.
Now the club intends to refinance again. The Guardian says this will allow the Glazers “to reduce the amounts they owe in PIK” loans, and to “take almost £130m cash out of the club next year“.
This financial engineering is clearly a short-term win for the Glazers. But longer-term, the picture is not so rosy. The interest bill on the new £500m bond will be £45m alone. This cash might otherwise have enabled United’s manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, to buy new players to support his title hopes. Equally, ticket prices have doubled, which will no doubt reduce the fan base for the future, as families can no longer afford to attend.