Tuesday 8 March 2011

How not to communicate with Parliament and supporters

I had the pleasure of attending the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing into "Football Governance" at the House of Commons this morning. The first witnesses were David Gill (CEO of Manchester United), Peter Coates and Tony Scholes (Chairman and CEO of Stoke City), and Niall Quinn (Chairman of Sunderland).

During questioning from Labour MP David Cairns about the impact debt had had on United, David Gill made an extraordinary statement (you can watch for yourself at 11.02:58 on this video):
"our net spend on players since the owners taken over [sic] was greater than in the five or six years before that"
Now that statement is not correct.

In the five years prior to the Glazer takeover (2001-2005), United spent a net £89.4m on players. From 2006-2010, the club spent a net £56.0m on players. You can see the full figures in this table:

I didn't make these figures up, they come from ten separate cash flow tables from the Manchester United plc and Manchester United Limited accounts filed at Companies House. I have chopped out the individual sections and you can see the originals below:

Pre-takeover cash flows

Post takeover cash flows

David Gill went on to explain at some length why he felt no need to engage with MUST or IMUSA and dismissed those fans concerned about the club's finances as "domestic" (outrageous!). He said the club was very good at communicating with its supporters and cited social media in Saudi Arabia as an example (let's hope they don't mention democracy).....

I think he needs to work on his communication strategy and he could start by giving Parliament the correct information.