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The Fiver | Debt is the road to ruin | Tom Lutz

July 4, 2012


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The problem with the world of finance is that as well as being harder to understand than the Tree of Life dubbed into Hungarian (without subtitles), it’s also really important. Meaning that in ord er to write about Manchester United’s new stock market flotation, the Fiver has had to get to grips with arcane concepts such as leveraged buy-outs, shorts, long-shorts, Hawaiian shorts and the right change for the sweet machine on the first floor.

But even the Fiver’s limited mental faculties are enough to know that the words “Glazers”, “tax haven” and “Cayman Islands” mean something less palatable than a vomit-flavoured sausage roll. Ever since the bald Ewok-alikes rode into Old Trafford and saddled Manchester United with the kind of debt that would do mid-table GDP strugglers Great Britain proud, the family have been thinking of novel ways to pay off what they owe the banks. At first they just made the club do it for them, but now they’ve hit upon a new plan: sell off loads of shares to investors who, in return, will get no dividends and very few voting rights. They will profit if United continue to prosper in the Premier League and Big Cup, though. That’s ri ght: the league they failed to win last year and Big Cup they were booted out of in the group stages.

Still, it’s not like the Glazers aren’t playing fair. As required by Stock Exchange regulations, they explain risks involved in buying shares in United. Those include the fact that the debts United carry “could adversely affect our financial health and competitive position”. That’ll be the debts the Glazers stuck on the club in the first place.

So let us again leave the final word to United chief suit David Gill, as spoken in 2004: “We’ve seen many examples of debt in football over the years and the difficulties it causes. We know what that means and we think that is inappropriate for this business.”


6 June: “I’d like to play on with Swansea since I was really happy there but after Brendan Ro dgers left the club for Liverpool, that changed the situation … Liverpool is a big club that has a glorious history” – Gylfi Sigurdsson eyes up a move to Anfield.

4 July: “We are delighted to announce that we have completed the transfer of Gylfi Sigurdsson from Hoffenheim” – big club Liver … Tottenham unveil their new signing.


“I don’t expect better from the Fiver – I mean now, let’s all be honest – but the least you can do is caveat the nonsense about Financial Scotmageddon that O’Newco and Euro Disnae League Big Haggis Neil Doncaster have been peddling for weeks (yesterday’s Fiver) as being hot air peeped out of the San Giro chimneys. Numerous commenters on the excellent Rangers Tax Case blog have already shown that any loss to the rest of the clubs could easily be covered by a minor increase in attendances, which is itself likely to result in a more competitive and fairer league (al though the fitba would still be bobbins). The vast majority of Big Loss they’ve been ramming down our throats would be lost by – wait for it – O’Newco and the Queen’s Celtic. Mind you, if O’Newco do get voted into the Euro Disnae League, at least STOP FITBA would have entered its final phase this side of the border. Every cloud …” – Andy McBride.

“Surely it should be Newc O’Rangers? O’Newco Rangers annoyed me more and more every time I read it, to the point where I’m emailing you this before I’ve even finished reading the third paragraph” – Phil Martin.

“I’ve just had a long hard look at myself” – Phil Martin.

“Trevor Wastell (yesterday’s Fiver letters) will be pleased to know that the FA is yet again trailblazing in the football world of innovation. In next year’s AFC (the largest amateur football league in Europe) there will be rolling substit utes as an FA-induced, Fifa-approved trial. Having played in an Old Suttonians 9th XI v Old Wilsonians 6th IX many years ago when we made all three substitutions only to be beset by knack and fall apart losing 3–1, I can feel Andrea Pirlo’s pain. Plus, this is one initiative that can be used in park football as well, unlike the goalline technology” – Alec Cochrane.

“Re: the MLS debate (Fiver letters passim). While in Chicago I watched loads of soccerball. Every Saturday morning I’d rise good and early and head down to the local Irish bar to watch a Premier League match or two. Granted, 9am in the morning is a touch early, but the bar was always packed, the full Irish breakfast tasty and the weak American lager frosty and cold. And although it’s slightly embarrassing having to high-five strangers at the neighbouring table whenever something remotely positive happened, I have to say the Yanks are a hopelessly positive bunch and their optimis m infectious. It was infinitely preferable to the current offering back in Blighty, watching the 5.30pm game, while drinking a violently overpriced pint of English lager followed by a second brutally expensive beer that somehow manages to empty my wallet, even though I’m sure I had 40 quid in there not five minutes ago. All the while surrounded by angry locals staring daggers at any minority supporter daring to be enthusiastic about something one of their team did. And that’s a direct comparison of Premier League action both here and there. When MLS really picks up speed and the Americans finally decide to take soccerball seriously, well … I’m not sure even Roy Hodgson could save us” – Marten Allen.

“As a Vancouver Whitecaps season ticket holder, I am also tired of the constant MLS bashing. The matches may not be full of tiki-taki football poetry, but is there another league which affords one the entertainment value of watching a world-famous underwear model angrily bumping chests with an obviously over-medicated blue mascot?” – Dave McBride.

“When quickly skim-reading the Fiver in between floors in the lift at work while supposed to be actually working, I often get exciting on seeing the Fiver give my beloved Aston Villa a mention. However, after work, when I get round to actually reading the Fiver, I’m always disappointed to find out you were actually referring to Andre Villas-Boas, David Villa, Ricky Villa, Yann M’Vila or just a villa someone might live in. Can you mention Aston Villa just to save the trouble?” – Tom England [consider it done for the season. Carlos Cuellar! Honk! – Fiver Ed].

Send your letters to the.boss. And if you’ve nothing better to do you can also t weet the Fiver.


Step one: open an account with Blue Square and deposit any amount; step two: place a bet of at least £5 on any sport; step three: we will match your bet with a free bet of up to £25.


We keep trying to point out the utter futility of advertising an online dating service “for interesting people” in the Fiver to the naive folk who run Guardian Soulmates, but they weren’t having any of it. So here you go – sign up here to view profiles of the kind of erudite, sociable and friendly romantics who would never dream of going out with you.


Scottish top-flight clubs have voted overwhelmingly to tell Newc O’Rangers to do one from the Euro Disnae League.

Despite failing to re ach a major semi-final since 1996, England have risen to No4 in Fifa’s world rankings. Well done Fifa’s world rankings!

Gillingham have been thrown out of their Beechings Cross training ground by Medway Council after failing to pay around £34,000 of bills. “It would not be right, or fair to taxpayers or those that pay their rent, to ignore this,” said Alan Jarratt, the council’s deputy leader.

Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge is confident he will recover from meningitis in time to play for Team GB at London 2012.

And Nedum Onuoha has hailed Mark Hughes’ recruitment policy at QPR. “You’ve got to trust the manager to pick the right players for the club … he’s helped all the teams that he’s been at become better sides,” said Onuoha of a manager who signed Roque Santa Cruz. Twice.


Xabi Alonso has red- hot chat with Sid Lowe about Spain’s philosophy and whether they can win the 2014 World Cup.

What is the dirtiest major international football tournament in history? It won’t surprise you to learn that South America features prominently in The Knowledge’s answer.

That comedy swannee whistle plummeting noise is the sound of Proper Journalist David Conn’s heart sinking at news of the Glazers’ latest move.

And Andre Villas-Boas is the exact opposite of ‘Arry Redknapp, says Louise Taylor, or words to that effect.


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Tom Lutz © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds




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