Fans wary as Manchester United prepare to pay debt

Manchester: Manchester United fan groups expressed concern on Tuesday after it emerged the club was set to pay off a 220 million pounds (352 million dollars) debt by the end of the month.

The nature of this debt in payments in kind notes (PIKs) has proved particularly controversial because of the interest they attract, with some supporters worried the club may be restricted in the transfer market as a result of the financial set-up at Old Trafford.

United PIKs are currently subject to an interest rate of 16.25 percent. That debt is levelled against the Glazer family, United’s American owners, themselves but there had been worries they would use club funds to help repay the loan.

But a letter issued by co-chairman Joel Glazer has confirmed to the lenders of the PIK notes that the debt will be paid by November 22.

Meanwhile accounts published Tuesday showed a rise in total turnover from 57.7 million pounds (92.4 million dollars) to 63.3 million pounds (101 million dollars) compared to the same three months last year.

The main reason was a rise in commercial revenue to 24.2 million pounds, up over 25 percent.

It was also revealed United’s gross debt had fallen from 514.7 million pounds to 509.4 million pounds up to September 30, 2010.

However, some fans remain distrustful of the motives of the Glazers, who took control of United in 2005.

Duncan Drasdo, the chief executive of Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST), said Tuesday: “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.”

Bureau Report