United fans' PSG celebrations tempered by worrying financial figures

Manchester United’s fourth quarter and full financial year results contain stark numbers.

The first is a huge increase in debt, which is up 133 per cent to £474.1 million.

Revenue has dropped 19 per cent to £509 million and the club has made a loss of £23.2 million – compared to a profit of £18.9 million last time around.

Of course the global pandemic plays a part, but the reports contain another set of eye-watering figures in terms of debt overseen under the Glazers’ regime.

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Carefully managing resources

The numbers were accompanied by a statement from Ed Woodward, where he stated the need to ‘carefully manage’ the club’s resources as a result, as per ESPN.

He added ‘the bottom line is we are investing and will continue to invest to back the manager’, but the Jadon Sancho fiasco during the summer transfer window suggests otherwise.

In some ways this goes beyond making signings in the next window or how much Saturday’s opponents Chelsea have spent in comparison to us.

United are the biggest club in English football and our finances shouldn’t be this precarious.

At a time when many other clubs lower down the pyramid are facing genuine short-term financial peril, it is important to point out that United will be fine for now.

But there’s a reason that the Glazers were keen on Project Big Picture, which would have tilted the finances of English football irreversibly their way, regardless of United’s success on the pitch.

There’s a reason that there is now talk of a European Premier League (Sky Sports), locking in elite sides for 20 years and hoovering up the cash that comes with it.

Again, that ringfences the money going into the Glazers’ pockets and makes it relatively separate from the performance of the club on the pitch.

Every time United’s finances are laid bare, it is a reminder of how much the Glazers have to answer for.

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Dreadful timing

The timing of the announcement is absolutely terrible.

United fans should be enjoying the glow of last night’s famous 2-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain.

Instead, within a day they have been offered a stark reminder of the precarious financial situation at the club; of the rising debts.

Again, it is important to point out that so many other English clubs have it worse and are in genuine danger of going under.

But it shames this famous club, and those of its fans connected with reality that so far the best United’s owners can come up with by way of help for those EFL sides is a naked power grab.

When that was voted down, it has been followed up by talk of a super league which would alter the footballing landscape forever.

Meanwhile, a club which should be run sustainably and sensibly has been turned into a cash cow for the Glazers.

For some fans, maybe nothing can take the shine off last night’s win. For others, the spiraling debts may be of grave concern.

It doesn’t need to be like this, but that’s the reality of life under the Glazers.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.