The Glazer family, which owns Manchester United, has infuriated disgruntled fans after it emerged the club’s shareholders will be paid £11M next month, while debts are rising and transfer spending this summer is expected to be cautious.
United reported its position in the third quarter of the financial year on Thursday and revealed that the club’s net debt had grown by £52M (11 per cent) to £496M, while the total debt is £591M.
In addition, United’s salaries rose 20 per cent to £102M in the three months to March 31, during a season that has seen the club achieve just 58 points, its lowest tally in the Premier League era.
News of an £11M dividend for Manchester United shareholders has antagonised supporters
Supporters have protested loudly, and occasionally in large numbers, against the Glazer family, during the campaign.
They accuse the owners of loading the club with debt, failing to invest, poor management and a disastrous transfer policy.
Their mood will not improve with the latest numbers, not least because the majority of the dividend to be paid to shareholders, will go to the Glazers, who own the majority of the shares.
The club, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, says in the report: ‘The bi-annual cash dividend of $0.09 per share will be paid on 24 June 2022, to shareholders of record on 6 June 2022.’
Glazers own the majority of the Manchester United shares. Pictured: Joel (r) and Avram Glazer
The dividend has been paid every six months since 2016, including during the Covid pandemic, on the 163,000,000 shares issued.
The announcement was met with anger on social media.
‘Stop taking dividends, you f****** c****,’ tweeted Scott Patterson, the editor of the Republik of Mancunia, a blog and website devoted to the club.
United are in disarray following a season in which Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked and replaced with Ralf Rangnick, who failed to turn around an ailing team that never looked like securing Champions League football.
Sources have told Sportsmail that United’s £1billion investment in new signings over the past decade is a measure of the club’s commitment to improving the team, but spending this summer will be disciplined to protect the financial model.
During the season thousands of fans have participated in organised protests at Old Trafford
United will focus on spending their money more effectively on the back of an overhaul of their recruitment system led by football director John Murtough.
New manager Erik ten Hag will play an active role in identifying potential signings, with Barcelona’s former Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong emerging as a target. He has also been linked with Ajax centre-backs Jurrien Timber and Lisandro Martinez.
Speaking after the results were announced on Thursday, United chief executive Richard Arnold admitted it had ‘clearly been a disappointing season’.
‘Resilience and high standards are core values for Manchester United, and we are determined to achieve better results next season and beyond,’ he added.
Manchester United and new manager Erik ten Hag will take a disciplined approach in the transfer market this summer
‘Faith in youth is another key tenet of the club and the continued success of our academy gives us confidence in the future.
More bad financial news may be anticipated in the next quarter, too.
‘There will be a negative impact because of the lack of progress in European competition, there will be less matches [compared to the previous year] and that will hit in the fourth quarter,’ said the University of Liverpool football finance expert, Kieran Maguire.
‘These results tell us that the experiment of paying Ronaldo huge wages and bringing in players on big salaries has not worked out.’
Red smoke flares were lit and anti-Glazer chants sung as the fans made their way to the stadium from the Tollgate pub during the last protest ahead of the game against Norwich
However, there was some good news in the figures released today, which showed a 29% leap in revenue to £153m, as a result of fans returning to Old Trafford following restrictions imposed during the Covid pandemic.
There has been widespread distrust of the Glazers among a large section of the fan base, since the leveraged buy-out of the club in 2005.
Since then, United have paid out £838M in interest on the debt the Glazers took out to acquire the club.
Up to 5,000 people joined a march from the city’s Tollgate to Old Trafford ahead of the Norwich City match in April, and an estimated 2,000 boycotted the first 17 minutes, missing Cristiano Ronaldo’s opening goal in what turned out to be a 3-2 win.
It was followed by further protests at home games organised by The 1958 fan group.