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Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

The Premiership

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Bond Market Gives Thumbs Down To United

Things may be looking up on the pitch for Manchester United, but the market doesn't like their bonds very much. Of course, the club has already trousered the money, but they may find it more challenging if they come back to the market in the future. The bonds have become one of the worst performers this year. Of course, they were mainly bought for the interest 'coupon' rather than capital gain. However, the sterling bonds have fallen to just 93 per cent of the value. If the investor had splashed out around £100,000, they would have already made a paper loss of £5,000.

Don't Be Ridiculous Says United Supremo

Manchester United chief executive David Gill has criticised fans planning a protest at the Champions League match against AC Milan on 10 March. Concerned by the debt the club has built up under the Glazers, a number of fans plan to enter the ground 10 minutes after kick off to expose empty seats at the ground with millions of people watching around the world. Gill told Radio 5, '[The protest] serves no purpose and it won't change a thing.

Liverpool Stay In The Red

The imminent sale of the Texas Rangers baseball team by Tom Hicks Jr, the Liverpool co-owner, may boost his bank balance, but will do little to help Liverpool Football Club. Hicks is expected to raise over $500m (around £310m) from the sale, but none of the money will be plouged back into the club. Liverpool continues its quest for investment in an effort to reduce the £237m of debt built up by Hicks and co-owner George Gillett since their 2007 takeover.

The Risk Factors At Old Trafford

The 322-page document released by Manchester United to accompany their successful bond issue lays bare some of the most fundamental risks that the club faces as a business. It therefore provides a level of transparency that is not usually possible. Journalists and analysts like ourselves can provide our assessment of what we think is happening, but this document tells us how the club sees things. And there are some real concerns. Here a few highlights about some of the main ones:

Glazers Sell Bonds

'Glazer: Forever In Your Debt' read the large banner held by Manchester United fans outside Old Trafford on Saturdays. However, the Glazers managed to sell £500m of bonds on the open markets to refinance their debts, albeit not without some difficulty and at a relatively high interest rate. The first football club to sell bonds of this kind, United embarked on a week-long series of road shows across three continents.

West Ham Purchase Welcomed

The purchase of a 50 per cent stake in West Ham United by David Sullivan and David Gold in a deal that valued the club has been generally welcomed. West Ham fans see them as one of their own and hope that a troubled period for the club under Icelandic ownership will now come to an end. It offers a rare example of a Premiership club reverting to British ownership. There were other potential puchasers, including one from Malaysia, and there were reports that the Icelandic owners were worried about the association of Gold and Sullivan with the adult entertainment business.

It's The Green And Yellow At Newton Heath

Manchester United supporters who are unhappy with the Glazers' stewardship of the club have adopted the green and yellow scarves of the predecessor club, Newton Heath. Indeed, the scarves are reported to be a much sought after item on the streets of Manchester. Newton Heath was formed by railway workers but became Manchester United when a brewer paid off the club's debts in return for the right to sell beer at the ground, offering an early example of commercial sponsorship and suggesting that business money has been involved in football right from the early days of the game.

Aston Villa living the American dream

"English football has experienced its fair share of American owners, rolling into town unencumbered by tradition, puffed up and full of vacant promises, with more than just an eye on the bottom line and who have since saddled their clubs with debt... The antithesis of their kind is just down the M6. Randy Lerner, the philanthropist who contributes to the National Portrait Gallery, the quiet American who bought Aston Villa for £63.6 million in 2006, has transformed his club in 3½ years to the point that they are on the cusp of a trip to Wembley for their first major final in a decade."

Pompey May Sue Premiership

The Press Association has just reported that Portsmouth is contemplating suing the Barclays Premier League over their refusal to lift the club's transfer embargo so that they can at least bring in loan players during the transfer window. My view is that Portsmouth are increasingly losing touch with reality and they should be very careful how they tread, even if the law is on their side. There is an appetite out there to make an example of a club to bring home to football clubs that they cannot go on living beyond their means.

United Fans Lose Their Patience With Glazers

The Glazers have never been popular owners at Manchester United. The Manchester United Supporters Trust has been resolutely anti-Glazer since the family bought the club in 2005. The club's proposed bond issue, on which we shall be providing a detailed analysis, has reignited that anger. Duncan Drasdo, the chief executive of the Trust, told The Times 'Now is the time for the Glazers to go. The bond issue is just rearranging the deckchairs and still leaves the club with huge debts, which they expect supporters to continue to fund.