Joel Glazer has defended Manchester United debt levels and the dividend payments his family have issued to themselves and says it will not stop the club from competing at the top of the transfer market.
The Glazer family have taken heavy criticism from supporters during their 16-year ownership after paying out more than £1 billion to finance the debt created by their leveraged buy-out in 2005.
The American owners have also taken out more than £100 million in dividend payments, but during a fan forum event held earlier this month Joel Glazer defended their model.
“We think that Manchester United is a very well run club, and we think clubs throughout football could take a look at us, and there’s a lot of good to be seen when it comes to some of these things that are controversial,” he said.
“We’re able to spend with the top clubs throughout Europe, whether it’s wages or transfer fees, we’ve been able to keep our ticket prices low, we’ve not increased them in over 10 years.
“We’re able to pay a dividend but it’s a modest proportion of our five to six hundred million pounds of revenue; it’s less than three percent of that.
“We have debt, but a lot of other clubs do have debt as well. We pay a very low interest rate, mostly fixed interest debt. So, if interest rates went up it would not affect us, but we had made progress in reducing our debt over the last several years. The net debt was meaningfully reduced a couple years ago.”
United have gone eight years without a league title and 13 years since lifting the Champions League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer guided the team to a second-place finish in the Premier League last season, but they still fell 12 points short of champions Manchester City.
Sources have told ESPN that United are closing in on a £77m deal for Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho as they look to bridge the gap with City and Glazer insists the club is in a position to invest in the squad.
“It [debt and dividend payments] has never stood in the way of us pursuing players or transfers on the pitch,” he said. “We may have walked away from transfers at times because the other side wanted an outlandish number. And while it’s easy to pay it that one time, it does have consequences.
“You do it once and the next person expects it, and then the next person expects it. And that’s not good, ultimately, for the club. So, we think that we’re able to accomplish all these things and still have.
“We’re going to keep investing on the pitch, which we did last year, and we plan on doing it meaningfully this year. So, we feel that we’re in a good spot.”
As well as Sancho, Solskjaer is keen to bring in at least two more players to immediately strengthen the first team with centre-backs, central midfielders, strikers and right-backs all being considered.
Glazer admits the club have suffered a financial hit caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but believes United are in a position to mount a serious challenge for trophies if the summer transfer window goes well.
“The pandemic hit and we have had to use a lot of our cash reserves because we didn’t have any supporters in the stands, we didn’t have the matchday revenue, and that has affected us, like it’s affected all the clubs throughout Europe,” he said.
“The difference is we’ve been able to keep investing. We’re strong.
“Any other club that has won titles recently had years where they didn’t win the league, then they moved up, they were successful and then everybody appreciates the way their structure is set up.
“We think we’re on that path. We feel very good about where we’re at. But at the end of the day, we all share the same goal; to win trophies.
“And we will make sure that everything is being done to put us in the best position to win trophies, we’ll continue to do that. And we think we’ve set up a structure behind the scenes to deliver success.”