Thursday, 10 March 2011

How much of United's profits are reinvested?

A few people commenting on my recent posts about net transfer spending under the Glazers have asked how investment levels as a percentage of profits compare between the Glazer era and the plc.

Here's the answer:

Whether looking at net or gross investment, the Glazers are ploughing a significantly lower proportion of the club's profits back into Manchester United.

Where could all that money be going? Oh yes.....

Welcome to Glazernomics!



Anonymous said...

Would a graph containing dividend payments vs owner withdrawals give a fuller picture? Or should these charges be incorporated into the second graph?

Darren said...

Cheers Andy, fairly damning as I expected. My rough guestimate had been 70% vs 20% for percentage of profits reinvested pre-Glazer vs post-Glazer. Not too far off the proper numbers.

Whats the reason for leaving out the capex for the quadrant expansion? Wasn't it paid for with PLC cash? Or did it end up being a bit more complicated than that?

Also on the interest paid vs EBITDA, I assume this doesn't include all the other costs associated with the debt, the arrangement fees, the refinancing fees, the swap losses etc? Some of these additional costs have been rolled up into the debt but some have been real cash expenses?

Anonymous said...

So how do these numbers compare to some of the other large teams?
Obviously Chel & Man City will have to be discounted but what about Spurs, Everton, Arsenal etc?

Anonymous said...

Does the club need a certain level of cash to ensure the covernants and ratios are maintained?

Suppose the club will argue that EBITDA is eaten up by increaces in wages

Mr Gill oh dear........

Matt said...

How can you credibly leave out the quadrants expansion? Particularly after you had a go at David Gill for trying to exclude the Ronaldo transfer. As I understand it, the quadrants expansion was £45 million, so how can you justify excluding that?

I also think it's a little disingenous to compare the two periods directly. 2001-05 was a massive rebuilding period for the club, during which time we won only two major titles (2003 PL, 2004 FA Cup). In contrast, 2006-2010 has been a highly successful period for the club - 3 PLs, 1 CL, 3 LCs and 1 WCC. So you are effectively criticising the Glazers for not spending just for the sake of it.

I think a comparison of the Glazers to the period from 1996 to 2001 would prove to be much more revealing...

andersred said...

I left out the quadrants because the plc initiated the work and it falls into two years 2005 and 2006. I could put the £35.3m capex in, but it is hardly Glazer era investment, it couldn't be stopped half completed could it? Transfer by contrast are generally decisions made and executed in the same accounting period. I pointed out in a comment in an earlier post how £18m of the gross spend under the Glazers are payments for players signed by the plc.

Am very happy to look at the 1996 to 2001 period. I focused on 2001-5 because that's the period David Gill mentioned to the DCMS Select Committee. His choice of comparison, not mine!


Anonymous said...

Lest we not forget that money has dappreciated since the 5 years prior to the gimps and that transfers fees have gone through the roof in the last 5 years.

Good work Anders, can you not put these facts into a file and send to the broadsheets and parliament to expose the Gill propaganda machine? He's on a par with Gadaffi.

andersred said...


I went and dug out the numbers for 1996-2001 and you couldn't be more wrong I'm afraid! The relevant graph is here:

More than 100% of the club's profits were invested in players, Old Trafford and Carrington during that period. The club ran down the£16m cash pile it had at the end of the 1995/96 season and actually raised new equity from shareholders in 1997 to pay for the investment.

The whole model was about growth and investment. The Glazer model is about reaping not sowing...


GCHQ said...

No it isn't Anders. You're conveniently overlooking the sensational growth and significant investment in our commercial operations. The very same growth that came from commercial partnerships which less than a year ago you wrote off as 'nice-to-have but not that significant in the grand scheme of things'. Well done. Some financial analyst you turned out to be.

Now that the 30% year-on-year commercial revenue growth figures have appeared you've predictably changed your position. But of course rather than congratulating the club on its commercial success you've ridiculously attempted to turn it into a negative by describing the business as akin to 'only running on one engine'.

That's the way you roll Anders. Spin, spin, spin, spin.

Your justification for leaving out the quadrant expansion capex is absolutely ludicrous. I wonder what would happen to the gross expenditure percentage if that investment was rightly included? I think we all know. The comparison between the PLC and the Glazer five year periods would be extremely similar in terms of gross expenditure on players and facilities.

The game's up Anders. It's over. The Glazers won. It's about time you came to terms with that fact.

andersred said...

Hi GCHQ long time no hear!

As per usual you are wrong. This time about the quadrant expansion. If you include them in the numbers you get this:

Net as % EBITDA
01-05 ex-quads 53%
01-05 inc-quads 56%

06-10 ex-quads 24%
06-10 inc-quads 31%

Gross as % EBITDA
01-05 ex-quads 82%
01-05 inc-quads 85%

06-10 ex-quads 63%
06-10 inc-quads 70%

Wow! The net fall in investment is only 25 percentage points not 29 percentage points if we include the quads. And all because the Glazers honoured contracts signed by the plc, the generous little scamps. Interestingly, in the 1996 to 2000 period, net investment was 94% of EBITDA and gross 111%. Investing to build something, not exploiting it, how shocking!

As for the commercial income, a huge chunk of that growth you quote is the Nike step up (plc again of course) and the Aon deal we knew about (and was prepaid). The partnerships added 4.5% year on year to the topline in Q2, a "nice to have" indeed, but like I said, not earth shattering. My thesis of slowing growth has been borne out (EBITDA up 3.2% in H1). Read the Swissramble's excellent blog on English football going ex-growth, you might learn something.

Then when you've got a better grip on the numbers come back and we can discuss them!


GCHQ said...

You've been fiddling the figures Anders.

Red Football Limited's cumulative EBITDA between May 2005 up to June 30 2010 was £382m.

Gross investment on player transfers and facilities over the same period was £286m.

Gross expenditure as % of EBITDA is 75%. I'm not sure what you've been up to in order to get 70%. I imagine you've been including MU Limited's pre-exceptional EBITDA over the 06-10 period. That's a bit naughty really.

The fact that such a pitifully small amount (£8m) pushes the PLC period percentage up by three points only goes to demonstrate how much EBITDA has grown under the Glazers ownership. Nobody would reasonably expect the gross expenditure % to have remained quite as high as the PLC days considering the tremendous EBITDA growth that the club has enjoyed with the Glazers at the helm. As such the 75% gross expenditure under the Glazers compares extremely favourably with the PLC era. So well done again.

The majority of the 30% growth in commercial revenue directly relates to the commercial partnerships that you so ridiculously wrote off as ''not very significant''.

EBITDA growth isn't slowing. It would have been 9% in H1 without the negative impact of a weaker playing performance from last season's second place finish. EBITDA from the club's core business is growing very nicely indeed.

You're not doing very well here Anders.

LSD_Eindhoven said...

Hi Anders

What exactly has "sensational growth in commercial income" got to do with an analysis of inward investment? Beats the hell out of me. I have heard of 'fudge and deflect' but you would expect its proponents to use it in a manner that wasn't so unsophisticated. Deary me.
This Gchq chap reminds me of a previous poster on your blog, Eaststand something or other, who embarked upon a campaign of absurdist proselytising when you failed to comment on the irrelevance of Goodwill Amortisation (again completely outside the scope of the topic being discussed- the £437 of Glazer costs). He took issue with "your personal ideological and social values." Really funny stuff at the time.

Interestingly, this Eaststand chap claimed that "You have on occasions accurately dealt with some of the 'spin' that has come from the Glazer spokesman/David Gill and I applaud you for that."
I am sure this eaststand chap would appreciate that your recent patch of blog entries follow from another bit of spin from David Gill. Easily disproved spin at that. Gchq should consult with this Eaststand fella for helpful pointers on how to avoid embarrassing oneself.

Back to the topic in hand:

Is it possible for you to upload some of the old plc accounts to your 'Resource' section? They are quite difficult to source from the net.

Keep up the good work.



Anonymous said...

This GCHQ guy is a proper gimp.

Anonymous said...

@Anders, @GlazerCHQ. I'm always sceptical when I just see graphs. They never really tell me anything apart from the fact the writer can use the chart function in excel.

Can you provide a table of figures for each of last 10 years showing cash generation from business, net transfer spend, net fixed asset spend, net dividends/interest and cash carried forward.

Then you can have your dance-off about who's a better analyst.

Anonymous said...

The company I work for spends around half its EBITDA on R&D, and Apple spends less than it stands to reason that my company should have better products and technologies than Apple.....doesn't it? 50% of my companies EBITDA is around £5m, whereas Apple regularly spends in excess of $5billion.

Since comparing percentages of EBITDA can be clearly shown to be irrelevant I would ask why you have decided to do it in this instance.........anyone with half a brain knows that our EBITDA has more than doubled since the Glazers took over so all you are showing is that they have also significantly increased investment into the club too.

A more accurate way of representing investment is to look at the actual figures rather than a percentage, otherwise you may as well compare apples (no pun intented) and oranges.

Perhaps an even more accurate way would be to include the considerable cash reserves available in the bank available for investment but hasn't yet been spent, or at least wait until after the summer transfer window as considerable investment is expected to cover the departure of some of our important players.

Significant transfer expenditure doesn't have to happen every year at Utd in order for us to be successful, but we have seen during Fergie's reign that he spends big when needed.

I suspect the graphs will look very different after the summer which goes to prove how irrelevant they are now.

I like your work Andy but just wish you could approach the figures without such an anti-Glazer bias. If you did you would realise the silliness of your most recent article.

Matt said...

"@Anders, @GlazerCHQ. I'm always sceptical when I just see graphs. They never really tell me anything apart from the fact the writer can use the chart function in excel."

I agree with that completely. It would be good to see the actual figures for comparison, particularly from 1996-2001 when our net transfer spending was around £6.5 million a year for the period. Anders, can you provide a link to a spreadsheet with the figures you have used and the relevant sources? I would expect investment as a proportion of EBITDA to have fallen under the Glazers, but imo the main reason for that is that they have more than doubled EBITDA from 2004/05 to 2010/11.

I also think it is still disingenuous to exclude the quadrants expansion from the capex figure. Planning permission may have been granted before the Glazers took over, but that was still capex that occured on their watch. Given their current plans to expand the stadium further, it is fair to assume they would still have made that investment even if the plc hadn't initated it.

Finally, have you included the club's recent commercial property investments in your calculations?

andersred said...

GCHQ, go and check your numbers, EBITDA was £395m.

Growth "would have been" higher if we'd won the league. Cracking stuff!

To Anonymous at 8.48, someone asked about investment as a % of profits, so I dug out the figures, if you don't think it's relevant ignore it. On summer spending, we'll see. With Carrick and Fletch signing new deals maybe we won't see much....


ja said...

"Planning permission may have been granted before the Glazers took over, but that was still capex that occured on their watch. Given their current plans to expand the stadium further, it is fair to assume they would still have made that investment even if the plc hadn't initated it."

Actually the plc had the money in the bank for the quadrant expansion that the Glazers then trousered and added the eventual costs of the work to the debt!

Matt said...


How exactly did the Glazers 'trouser' the money? Over the past five years they have not taken a single dividend out of the club, and the consultancy fees and loans that everyone whinges about amounted to less that the dividends we paid to shareholders as a plc. Do you have a source for your ridiculous accusations? Or even a shred of evidence?

andersred said...

Forgot to add, I'll upload the spreadsheet when I'm in front of a normal computer.

Quick one on the quads, the plc had cash on the balance sheet to pay for them, but the LBO debt structure meant the Glazers' had to take out a facility to pay for their completion. Not "trousered" cash but swallowed up into the whole debt morass....


Damian said...


Almost by definition, using the clubs profits to pay for the debts imposed on the club during the acquisition is a transfer of wealth from Manchester United to the Glazers. The idea that the Glazers have not been considerably enriched by those actions is absurd (if that is not what you meant, then I apologize, but it appeared so when you mentioned that they hadn't taken dividends).

Anonymous 08:48:

To compare this United team to Apple, and the team prior to the acquisition to your own company, this team would need to be the best team in Europe, but crucially, the team prior to the takeover would have needed to be in the Conference (or a league that is comparable to the difference between your own company and Apple). That would at least make more sense.

Comparing your own company with Apple is not the same thing as comparing the same company over two distinct time periods. To do so, it is far more instructive to use the percentage of profits as Anders has done due to the fact that there is no credible method of constraining all of the variables, including but not limited to, the size of revenues, the inflation in transfer fees, and the quality of the competition. Simply comparing two brute facts tells us very little in this regard.

In fact, your own comparison tells us why that is so. A club may spend more on transfers (and other investments in the club) between two distinct time periods, but if it constitutes a much smaller percentage of revenues, and/or if the average cost of transfers has increased dramatically (or perhaps there are other reasons such as a greater need to invest as compared to the quality of the competition, which is largely subjective), then it is entirely possible that the higher figure actually constitues less (relative) investment when those variables are taken in to account.

It should not be at all surprising that most of the costs of running a football club have increased over time, particularly as the clubs revenues have increased (doubled). What is surprising is that our transfer spending has actually decreased (net) in the past five years compared to the five years prior to the acquisition, both in terms of the actual figure and as a percentage of the overall profits.

LSD_Eindhoven said...

Hi Anders
I do recall the Glazers using the RCF to fund for the expansion and then using the first refinancing in 2006 to cover the drawn RCF.

Expressing inward investment, especially net spend as a function of turnover\profit is a more realistic measure than an absolutist comparison over time; it gives a better picture of tranfer fee inflation- the growth in turnover driving transfer fee inflation. Transfer fee inflation at the top end of the spectrum has been significant. The fact that the absolute net spend in the 5 years prior to the takeover was higher than in the Glazer period actually downplays the real money difference.
Gee, some posters would like us to believe that fee inflation has been fixed at zero; that a 22 year old Roy Keane would still be available today for 3+m. How they confound even their own common sense in an effort to present a more favourable picture under the Glazers..
Anyway, I think your filter has a particular problem with my posts- a post I made last night got caught in its web. Perhaps you might set it free.


GCHQ said...

There's nothing wrong with my numbers Anders.

Red Football Limited's cumulative EBITDA was £382m over the 06-10 period. You can't use pre-exceptional EBITDA for this analysis. Even using your figure of £395m sees gross investment as % of EBITDA come in at 72.4%. So over two percentage points higher than you initially claimed. Lucky I'm here to keep an eye on you eh?

I was quite correctly comparing EBITDA growth on a like-for-like basis by taking the performance element out of the equation.

With regards to Swissramble's blog, there's always been a slowdown in growth during the year when the PL and CL television rights are still both in the same three year cycle (ie: the 2009/10 season when the PL deal was in its final year and the CL deal in its second). In 10/11 clubs will benefit from the new PL deal. In 11/12 they'll benefit from the new CL deal, etc.

And yes, let's see the actual gross investment figures for the 01/05 period. I have them going back to 2002 but you can be a good sport and save me a couple of quid on the Companies House by providing
the others.

GCHQ said...

Hello LSD,

My point about the sensational growth in commercial income was in response to Andersred's claim that the Glazer model is all about reaping not sowing. Clearly that isn't the case. A significant investment (the ''sowing'' element) was made in the London commercial team and the club is now ''reaping'' the benefits of that strategy. Hope that clears that up for you.

The club has provided clarification on Gill's comments. No harm done.

Transfer fee inflation really hasn't been that significant between the two five year periods. It's been player wages which have really taken off but the Glazers come out smelling of roses on that score too as you'll no doubt be aware that the club's wage bill has increased by over £50m pa since their takeover.

Keep trying gentlemen. The reality is that there's actually very little in the way of credible criticism that can be aimed at the Glazers stewardship of our great club.

Fantastic win today wasn't it! God knows how many players out injured and we can still put a team out on the pitch which comfortably beats the second best team in the country.

We're Man United, we do what we want.

Damian said...

"Transfer fee inflation really hasn't been that significant between the two five year periods."

This does not appear to be true. According to Tomkins et al in their book, Pay as You Play, the average price of a transfer in the PL has doubled in the last 10 years. Professor Stefan Szymanski has also suggested that the cost of winning a game in the Premier League is now £7.2million, compared to £348,000 roughly 20 years ago (this includes both transfers and wages).

So, while I accept that wages have probably increased at a greater rate -- although the better players were earning roughly £50k-£70k in the late nineties, whereas they are earning roughly £100k-£140k in the present day (with some notable exceptions), which is a similar doubling (and which mirrors the doubling of revenues quite nicely) -- if the figure provided by Tomkins et al is correct, it makes our current transfer spending all the more remarkable.

Anonymous said...

lsd gchq is eaststander he was outed on redcafe and he is a gimp

MattT said...

Good one Anders, keep it up.
Some people don't like hearing it but that doesn't invalidate your points.
GCHQ - 2 percentage points in either direction changes my opinion (thinks....) not at all !
If it makes you happy with the situation then good for you.

Redraphenic said...

The credit the Glazers get for upping commercial income is a big red herring. Utd have a bigger clout than Liverpool yet only have a shirt sponsorhip for the same value of £80m over 4 years. Also
Utd have a bigger world standing than Bayern Munich but lag behind in commercial revenue by a whopping £65.7m! Bayern's £135.7 to United's £70m on the most recent figures.

United could take advantage of local businesses like Boddingtons, Co-op and Peel Holdings but chose not to. Plus there is no point in bringing extra revenue in if its only going into extra bank fees rather than the clubs coffers, for transfers, ground expansion, cheaper tickets for kids and meaningless cup games.

Ed said...

Got to this late but I noticed once again the red herring of plc dividends raised its ugly head. Total dividends, including special dividends made to fight off various takeover attempts amounted to £61.74m over 15 years of listing. Amounts to a little more than £4m a year compared to current £45m plus being paid out in interest payments.

Anonymous said...

Can I welcome GCHQ Back on here and can i look forward to him giving a more Fair and Balanced View of Our Clubs Finances

Anonymous said...

I did a quick review of the cash flow statements of the Red Football stats from 2006 on.

The cash generated in the business from 2006 to 2010 was £480.2m.

Of this £227.9m was paid out in servicing finance (incl interest), £55.9m was paid out in net transfers and £71.4m was paid out in net fixed asset acquisitions.

Overall there was a positive movement in cash over the period was £131.2m.

I don't have the pre-Glazer accounts so can't do a comparison.

ja said...

"Can I welcome GCHQ Back on here and can i look forward to him giving a more Fair and Balanced View of Our Clubs Finances"

Fair and Balanced as in Fox News!!!

Anonymous said...

perhaps Andy you could take us inside the Glazer Family Property Interests again.It has been some time sine you last mentioned this part of the Glazer Empire

strapworld said...

Is GCHQ David Gill? It can only account for his rose tinted specatacle vision on Manchester United.

The fact remains that andersred has highlighted the disgrace that is the Glazers.

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Anonymous said...

Should I boycott the season tickets this year Anders or is everything ok now the PIKs are gone??

ja said...

Anonymous 13.14.
I do not understand your question. Surely if you can afford a season ticket you are old enough to make your own mind up as to whether you want to buy one or not?

Anonymous said...

@ja. Have manners in future. The question was NOT directed at you so I don't care if you don't understand it.

@Anders. Last year you wrote "My advice - don't renew" Will you be giving the same advice this year?

Milneonthewing said...

Anon @ 13:14 & 17:44

If your question was private, perhaps a public message board wasn't the place to ask it. I suspect however you're trying to make a point (badly). I agree with Ja, you're an adult (presumably) make your own mind up. In my opinion, the PIKs aren't "gone" we just can't see them anymore.

ja said...

Anonymous @ 13.14 and 17.44
Excuse my manners or lack of them. I would like to ask you:
1. have you ever in the past purchased a season ticket for OT? (or season tickets as you originally wrote).
2. If the answer to 1 is yes, have you since not renewed?
3. If the answer to 3 is yes, was the reason for this Anders' recommendation last year?
If you have the manners to answer these questions, perhaps we will gain a better picture of the reasons why you originally asked your question. At present I can only make an educated guess. And as Milneonthewing says, if your question was private, using a public forum might be a bit crass if you want to keep the question and answer confidential.

Anonymous said...

"The most effective action supporters can take to shorten the Glazers' ownership of our club is to not renew their season tickets for 2010/11."

simpson said...

Anonymous said...

For any glazerite to boost about increased revenue is just bizarre. It is based on huge increases on ticket prices and this has still failed to shrink the debt.

Very hard to convince a match going red who has has seen a dramatic rise in costs and seen players leave the club.

Anonymous said...

Just read through these comments. GCHQ does make a fair point that it is unfair to disqualify £35m in infrastructure spending and then essentially chastise the Glazers for not spending that money on other projects/players. It doesn't matter that the money was pre-contracted, it still represented a cash flow out of the company.

I was curious about a related matter. There seemed to be an implication in anders' reply that the £18m hangover from the Rooney transaction had been treated in the same way, or, worse, that it had been attributed to the plc. Could you set my mind at rest by comfirming that it was included in the Glazers' expenditures.

andersred said...

Hi Anonymous on 8 April. Don't worry, all the transfer spending is allocated to the year cash was paid. The stage payments for Rooney are Inc in the Glazer years.