Football FanCast columnist Tom Jones contemplates whether United fans have reasons to be concerned about the running of their club.
A quick look at the Premier League table and you will see that Manchester United sit second in the table behind Chelsea, and you may think that everything is pretty rosy up at Old Trafford. But are problems starting to brew off the pitch as the concerns that were raised when the Glazer family took over United are finally being realised? Red Devils fans won’t want to see what Glazer has done to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but have United fans got every reason to be concerned about their club?
The Glazers have always been disliked in Manchester after the Americans took on a massive debt to buy United in 2005. Since then United have faired well in the Premier League, winning the title in the previous three seasons, but are there signs that the Glazers’ financial problems are starting to become evident? The Glazers’ other sporting property, American Football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, don’t exactly provide a glowing report on the Glazers’ ownership skills. The Buccaneers have lost all of their seven games this season, and although that is never going to happen to United, some of the goings on at Tampa Bay should concern United fans.
The Buccaneers have spent less than any other team in the NFL this season, spending £14 million less than the average NFL spend and are the lowest spenders in the four years since the Glazers bought Man Utd. But does this mean that they are concentrating all of their efforts on United, or should this be a warning for United fans? The crippling repayments they have to pay on their United debt has led to accusations that they are neglecting their NFL team, but is there any evidence that cost-cutting measures are employed at United as well?
Many United fans will be unhappy that the season ticket prices continue to rise year on year, but compared to the American owners at Liverpool, United seem to have got a reasonable deal. The Glazers have spent big money in the past to bring players like Berbatov and Carrick to the club, but is that transfer budget beginning to run out? Sir Alex Ferguson has only spent £17 million of the £80 million the club received for Ronaldo’s transfer to Real Madrid, but is that because other targets were overpriced or because that was all he had to spend?
The January transfer window will be an interesting time for United fans. If they spend big on either Villa or Silva who they continue to be linked with, many of the fans’ concerns will be allayed. But if another transfer window passes without any big money being spent then the alarm bells will start to ring. United have gone slightly backwards this season, and United fans will hope that they haven’t become a selling club. But surely a lack of further player investment would seriously harm their chances to win more silverware and raise concerns amongst United fans.