With all the recent fuss over Malcolm Glazer buying some football team or other down the other end of the East Lancs Road, all kinds of figures are being released and announced to compare the Manchester Devils with other English clubs. The latest figures are on income from TV rights for the English clubs – and United are behind Liverpool in that particular league table. It’s the first time Man United have finished outside of the top two in that particular table.
According to the reports Liverpool are third in the table, ahead of fourth-placed Manchester United. The top four is as follows:
Manchester United: £44.4m
Glazer is only interested in making money at his new business venture if most analysts are to be believed. One way of making more money he is said to have in mind is to scrap the current agreements between Premiership clubs to bid for TV rights collectively. The analysts said that he would go to court to try and break his new company away from the other clubs in order to negotiate deals on his own. One way was to use the EC’s competition laws, but yesterday he recieved a blow to his hopes of using that avenue. The EC’s competition spokesman, Jonathan Todd, said that the EC wouldn’t interfere if Glazer tried to use them to get his own way: "They might try to do that but there is no way we could become involved. We do not have a problem with the principle of collective selling and think there are very valid reasons for it. We do not think there is any problem with it under EC competition law."
This means that Glazer’s other supposed plan – to increase ticket and merchandise prices as high as possible – will have to be his main course of action, further upsetting the fans of his company.
Meanwhile the Premier League are going to keep an eye at events at the company that believes it is the world’s biggest club. The Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, said: "We will look to establish where the club are heading and what they are trying to achieve. Malcolm Glazer has clearly bought a Rolls Royce. You don`t buy a Rolls Royce and want to turn it into a stock car, it`s just not what you do. We are obviously taking a watching brief, but that is not saying we don`t have an opinion. What we will be doing is look to establish where the club is heading and what they are trying to achieve, which is what we do with any club that comes in. In the fullness of time, we will sit down with the people who represent him and find out what his ambitions, hopes and aspirations are for owning Manchester United."
Liverpool’s TV money will drop next season unless they get into the Champions League by a) winning it this year and b) getting a change of heart from UEFA or the FA. United still have to qualify for the group stage after finishing third, and if they do they’ll get a lower share than either Chelsea or Arsenal. UEFA distribute the money as 40% to those finishing as League Champions, 30% to the runners-up, and 15% each to the third and fourth-placed teams.
One analyst who was quoted on how things will hit United was Vinay Bedi. He’s got an enjoyable job in what could be such a boring place to work – he’s a football analyst with stockbrokers Brewin Dolphin. He said that this drop is significant for United: "At this particular moment every million pounds will be important to Malcolm Glazer because of the pressures of the debt he has taken on. Even in the club`s previous guise as a quoted company a level of differential of £6million with their rivals is significant, it is equivalent to almost a third of their last annual profits. This is high-margin stuff – income from TV and prize money from the Premier League and Champions League is not related to any significant cost so it`s the sort of revenue a company particularly wants."
Bedi says that Glazer has to now weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of handing over money for new players to try and increase his profits: "Every owner`s dream is to improve performance by spending money but it does not always work – and the history of football is littered with examples of when it has not."
Liverpool are still working out the details of the finance of their move to a new stadium, an important move for the club according to chief executive Rick Parry. When the ground move was first announce, Parry compare Liverpool’s gate receipts to United’s saying that the extra capacity at Old Trafford was allowing United to make more money, invest more money in players, and in turn keep bring the success to their club. The difference between Liverpool and United though is that United are run as a business, a business trying to make as much money as possible. Liverpool also want to make as much money as possible, but for the benefit of further improvements to the team and facilities, and in turn the benefit of the fans. Rick Parry has already said of Liverpool’s Champions League run that the money isn’t important.