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SBD Global/August 6, 2012/Franchises

Fans Of ManU Call For Boycotts Of Sponsors' Products In Anger Over IPO Plans

ManU supporters against the flotation of the EPL club in N.Y. called for the "boycott of sponsors' products to put pressure on the Glazer family to ditch the plan," according to Ben Klayman of REUTERS. The call risks embarrassing the club just days after it signed a record-breaking shirt sponsorship deal with General Motors. The Manchester United Supporters Trust said in a statement, "The boycott strategy is intended to send a loud and clear message to the Glazer family and club sponsors that without the support and purchasing power of fans -- the global strength of the Manchester United brand doesn't actually exist." MUST added, "It is hoped sponsors will put pressure on the Glazer family to reconsider their plans." ManU has more than 70 commercial partners around the world (REUTERS, 8/3). In London, Sarah Gordon reported that "from a financial point of view, the IPO does not look pretty." ManU's operation profit has been falling over the past three years, from £124M to £63M ($98.5M). Despite buoyant commercial sales, overall revenue is actually "expected to drop this financial year" -- mainly because of the club's failure to bag any trophies last season. Not much information is being given to potential investors. However, if investors "do decide to up their money in, they won't get much bang for their buck." If the IPO is successful, public investors will own 42% of ManU's A shares, carrying voting rights of just 1.3%. The Glazers will own not only all other A shares but all the B shares too -- each with 10 times the votes of the A shares. The Glazers seem to believe that investors are so credulous that "they will hand over their money without being offered a financially persuasive or even the pretense of good corporate governance practice." If they are foolish enough to do so, they will deserve to lose their shirts (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/3).
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