Manchester United sale speculation intensified on Thursday as the Glazers released the club’s latest financial report. The figures make damning reading and are the most recent indicator of the Tampa-based owners’ intention to cash in after a 17-year tenure at the helm.
Significantly, United’s board of directors, predominantly made up of the six Glazer siblings, won’t be taking dividends out of the club for the first time since 2016.
Part of the financial report read: “On November 15, the Board of Directors did not approve the payment of the semi-annual dividend for fiscal 2023.”
The Red Devils’ record summer transfer window, in which Erik ten Hag oversaw around a £200million net spend to overhaul his newly inherited squad, has been cited as one of the factors contributing to the decision.
But the date in the statement notably falls exactly one week before the Glazers announced plans to identify ‘strategic alternatives’ that hinted at their intention to sell their asset.
Since the Glazers started taking the dividends out of United in 2016, being the only Premier League owners to do so, they have received more than £150m.
It has plunged the club into deep debt not present when they completed a controversial takeover in 2005, rising 22 per cent from £419.5m to £514.9m this year.
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But their decision to stop drawing dividends, mixed with the worrying figures in United’s latest financial report, suggests the Glazers would be more than happy to cash in soon.
The results showed United having a pre-tax loss of almost £2.5m-per-week in the first quarter of 2022/23, despite a seven per cent wage decrease after last season’s failure to qualify for the Champions League.
United borrowings also increased to £680m on September 30, plus £431m owed to trade suppliers.
But standout figures include that the club have generated £3m cash in the first quarter of 22/23 from day-to-day activity, a dramatic drop-off from the £71m at the same stage one year ago.
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There has also been a staggering £97m reduction in United’s cash balance in just three months, falling from £121m on June 30 to £24m on September 30.
And as a showstopper not for the faint-hearted, United have paid a total interest of £917,000,000 since the Glazers took over in 2005, coming to £1.02m a week.
The Old Trafford giants are on a slippery slope toward a concerning conclusion, but the Glazers’ appointment of the Raine Group, who helped Roman Abramovich sell Chelsea, is further proof of their plans to abandon ship.
Rothschild and Co. will act as financial advisors to the Glazer family shareholders, with reports suggesting a sale could potentially go through by spring.
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