Manchester United received a double financial boost yesterday as their owners confirmed club money would not be used to pay off huge debts while first-quarter results showed strong match-day and commercial revenues.
United's owners, the Glazer family, sprung a huge surprise on Monday by agreeing to pay off a £220m payment-in-kind (PIK) loan, a move that was greeted with intrigue as to where the funds would come from. Neither the club nor a spokesman for the Glazers would comment on the matter yesterday. But it was confirmed that the money to pay off the debts would not come from inside the club.
Joel Glazer, co-chairman, has reportedly signed a "voluntary free-payment notice" confirming that 100 per cent of the outstanding loan would be repaid next Monday, 22 November.
However, fans have challenged the Glazer family to come clean about their intentions for the club. Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of Manchester United Supporters' Trust, said: "Now is the time for the Glazers to finally come clean and tell the truth about what is going on at Manchester United and what their plans are. What have they got to hide? No more secrecy. No more spin. Just tell the fans the truth."
It is doubtful these comments will have any effect on the Glazer family. It is only a matter of weeks ago that the United chief executive, David Gill, sought to allay fears about the club's long-term future.
This latest development does appear to confirm statements from Sir Alex Ferguson that he has a large transfer fund at his disposal and the manager alone is responsible for it not being spent rather than the money being kept back to pay off a portion of the PIK debt.
The most interesting figures from yesterday's quarterly results were a rise in total turnover from £57.7m to £63.3m compared to the same three months last year. The main reason for that is a rise in commercial revenue to £24.2m, up over 25 per cent. It was also revealed that United's gross debt had fallen from £514.7m to £509.4m.