In the build up to the World Cup, soccer (football) news seems to be churning out of the fourth estate every minute. The news which caught my eye today was this report from the BBC (linked through ESPN’s soccernet) indicating that the Glazer family, owners of Premier League club Manchester United and the National Football League’s (NFL) Tampa Bay Bucs. The Glazer’s, who have taken quite a beating in England from Man Utd supporters were dealt another publicity nightmare today when it was found by the BBC that the Glazer’s are $1.6 billion in debt. While it was known that the Glazer’s owed a great deal of money, this new figure is more than half a billion dollars greater than previously estimated figures.
There is indication in the BBC report and ESPN article that the Glazer’s are in trouble, but the Glazer’s have pointed out that Man Utd is worth $1.8 billion in the newest Forbes rankings, and that their total assets total over $2.3 billion. It is notable that of the $1.6 billion debt, the largest portion of it is one billion dollars which is owed because of the Glazer’s $1.4 billion purchase of Manchester United in 2005 (currently they only owe $95 million on the Tampa Bay Bucs who are valued at $1.09 billion). The Glazer’s continue to reiterate that they will not be selling Manchester United. My feelings are that if someone offered enough money, they would possibly entertain an offer to sell the club. Yet considering the gradual progress they have made in chipping away at the debt on Man Utd and the Tampa Bay Bucs, it is possible that the Glazer’s have bigger long term plans in regards to their professional sport franchises.