MUST chief executive, Duncan Drasdo, has dismissed the notion that Manchester United need a sugardaddy to follow in the footpath of Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour to rescue the club and he maintains that the Glazers might have to accept the idea of having to sell the club for less than they would like.
Drasdo’s reply came a few hours after BetFred founder and Salford-born billionaire Fred Done claimed that Manchester United are in desperate need of a figure like Sheikh Mansour and Roman Abramovich or risk falling further behind Manchester City and Chelsea over the next couple of seasons, given the lack of investments the Glazers have made since taking over the club in 2005.
“I don’t agree that we need an oligarch or a sheikh. Look at the money the Glazers have cost Manchester United. The widely-reported figure is £680m and if you take into account the debt that still exists by the time it has been paid it will be over £1bn,” said Drasdo.
“That tells you how much surplus cash United have generated while still remaining competitive.
“United can compete if allowed to use its own resources. Look at Bayern Munich – they don’t need an oligarch. I think if anything they show that commercial value is increased when fans have a strong ownership stake,” explained the MUST chief executive to the Manchester Evening News.
While Drasdo and his organisation remain vocal in their disapproval for the Glazers, he disagrees with Done over the sort of owner United should aim for, claiming that being bankrolled by a billionaire will further alienate the club from its local roots and fans.
“I look at City and Chelsea and I feel that the fans are disenfranchised from their club,” said Drasdo. “People may see that as sour grapes because of United’s current predicament but that is a view I have always held.
“A football club should stand or fall on its resources.”
Drasdo, however, agrees with Done that the Red Knight model was never going to be successful, but he insists that the price the Glazers are likely to ask for United has fallen from the £2bn they were reportedly set to demand in 2010 and could fall even further over the next 12-18 months as United struggles on the pitch look set to continue.
“I think Fred is right in saying that they were asking for a price that nobody was willing to pay,” said Drasdo. “I think Fred is also right that the Red Knights and the 40 investors model was not viable and, to be fair, I think those involved reached the same conclusion. We are backing a model that involves supporters having an meaningful voice in how their club is run but that is not the same as fans running the club.
“I also think that now it would be a lot less than £2bn. A club’s valuation is based on the gap between its income and costs. The costs at United will go up because Sir Alex Ferguson was operating at another level. We were told not long ago it had dropped to £1.8bn and it could go down as far as £1.2bn.”
Meanwhile Done claimed that United are fooling themselves and their fans by claiming that they’re the world’s biggest club, for they clearly “do not measure up to the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich”.
“The Glazers are smart business people who pulled off a real coup for themselves. They sneaked up on United and bought it quietly and almost totally on debt. That’s very clever,” said the BetFred founder.
“Their main concern is paying debt down and taking dividends out. To the Glazers it’s purely and simply a financial instrument.
“It breaks my heart that they’re sat in Florida while 70,000 who love the club are paying for their debt and dividends and are not seeing a good team. We’re watching rubbish.”
Those words, however, are likely to fall on deaf ears given the staggering number of fans who still defend the Glazers, despite their refusal to invest money in the club has now reached ridiculous levels.