SBD/March 9, 2011/Franchises

ManU CEO Ardently Defends Glazers Against U.K. Parliamentary Questioning

Gill says Glazers aren't only owners who don't address supporters groups
Manchester United CEO David Gill yesterday "delivered a staunch defence" of the Glazer family during "hostile questioning" by members of the U.K. parliament about the EPL club's owners, according to Glenn Moore of the London INDEPENDENT. Gill said that the debt "loaded on to United by the Glazers did not affect the running of the team." He admitted it "would be better in some respects if the debt was not there." But he added, "It doesn't hamper the club, it doesn't impact what we do. It has no impact in terms of transfers." Gill also said that the Glazers "had increased the club's income." Meanwhile, Gill note Manchester United Football Club Ltd. "is a UK company" despite being registered in Delaware. Gill: "The ultimate owners might be in Delaware but where are the owners of Chelsea (based)? It doesn't matter. Our ultimate ownership is 100 per cent Glazer family. The passport is not an issue. You can have very bad British owners." Gill said that the Glazers were "not alone among owners in not speaking directly to supporters, adding he speaks to a supporters' forum three or four times a year." He also "defended the refusal to engage" with Manchester United Supporters Trust, saying it was because the group's "avowed intent is to change ownership" (London INDEPENDENT, 3/9). In London, Ashling O'Connor notes the club "will not negotiate with supporters' groups who are 'at war' with the Glazer family." Gill: "We understand the importance of fans. We would be naive and stupid if we did not understand what the fans think. (But) not everyone hates the owners" (LONDON TIMES, 3/9).

CAUSE FOR CONCERN: In London, Sandy Macaskill reports the EPL is "closely monitoring Birmingham City after concluding that the club's financial position gives cause for concern." The league also "privately expressed unease at attempts by the Birmingham board to distance themselves from their parent company, Birmingham International Holdings." Birmingham's finances have "again come under scrutiny after a statement made to the Hong Kong stock exchange last week revealed 'the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt' on the ability of BIH to continue as a growing concern." BIH owns 96% of Birmingham City plc, which owns the club. Recent accounts published by the club "showed that Birmingham has debts of more than" US$47M (London TELEGRAPH, 3/9).
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