Sports letter: Over the line

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The Independent Online
Sir: Manchester United Plc 2 Manchester United supporters 0. The score- line following last week's announcement that Manchester United reported pre-tax profits of pounds 11.1m in the six months prior to January 1999, compared to pounds 15.4m for the same period last year.

United Plc's first goal came from an own goal.The chairman and chief executive of Manchester United, Martin Edwards, asked a question about the defensive ability of the supporters. Their response was: "Sorry, you are only making a healthy profit of pounds 11.1m".

United Plc doubled their lead, with a clever intricate move. The ball was transferred into their opponents' box, and there was Edwards to finish clinically with a swift pounds 2-a-match increase in ticket prices.

The game was dead and buried at this point, and supporters were left contemplating relegation.

It is strange to remember that on 25 February the joint manager of the plc and supporters teams, Alex Ferguson, went on the attack over player pay demands, warning that, "the very future of football is on the line unless we get back to wage negotiations".

A more relevant quote from Ferguson would have been, "the very future of football is on the line unless we stop chairmen, encouraged by their plc status, squeezing money from the supporters".

After all, on 2 February this year, Manchester United were named the world's richest club in an unofficial poll, with a turnover of pounds 87.939m, some 50 per cent larger than Barcelona in second place at pounds 58.862m.

GARY JACOB

St Catherine's College,

Oxford

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