• Glazers avoid revealing 2011-12 financial performance
• Figures expected to show a decline due to failings in Europe
The Glazer family's timing for floating Manchester United is facing criticism from some analysts who argue the Glazers are deliberately avoiding having to present United's expected decline in financial performance in 2011-12.
The Glazers have filed with the New York Stock Exchange, to float a Manchester United company registered in the Cayman Islands tax haven, United's financial accounts for the year before that, to 30 June 2011. United's income is expected to have suffered a significant decline last year, principally due to Sir Alex Ferguson's team being eliminated from the Champions League at the group stage, whereas in 2011 they earned €53m (£44m) from Uefa after reaching the final.
Presenting accounts more than 12 months old fails to comply with US Securities and Exchange Commission requirements, and United have had to apply for special dispensation to have the out-of date accounts allowed. In a letter dated 3 July, Edward Woodward, United's executive vice-chairman based in London, points out the accounts for United's most recent financial year, to 30 June 2012, are not overdue in the Cayman Islands – "its jurisdiction of incorporation" – or any other country. Having to present the 2011-12 accounts, Woodward claims in the letter, would be: "impractical and involve undue hardship" for United.
United spokesmen both at their Old Trafford offices and representing the Cayman Islands-registered company in New York are not commenting on any aspect of the proposed flotation until it is complete and declined to explain why the Glazers had chosen this timing for the float, and to deliver out-of-date accounts.
Owen Wild, deputy editor of International Finance Review, has criticised the timing, suggesting it is because United's financial performance in 2011-12 is likely to have been significantly worse than for 2010-11. "It is very often unnecessary to do this, and investors are rightly suspicious when companies do it," Wild said. "We have several times seen companies file out-of-date accounts, then when the more recent accounts come out, they show a decline in financial performance."
United's 2011-12 accounts are almost certain to show the club made less money than in 2010-11. That year, Ferguson's team won the Premier League and lost in the Champions League final at Wembley, to Barcelona. With full houses at Old Trafford regular and the team's success marketed for global sponsorships by a team Woodward oversees in the London office, United posted a record income of £331m in 2010-11. Despite paying interest and other finance costs of £53m on the debts, then standing at £459m, which the Glazers loaded on to United to buy the club, United returned a £12m profit in 2010-11.
The club's income from European competitions will be significantly reduced for the most recent season, when United were dismissed from the Europa League by a skilled Athletic Bilbao after their Champions League failure. Uefa are due to release figures on Friday for how much each club was paid for Champions and Europa League participation last season. United's payment can be expected to be around half that of the previous year. The club also missed the earnings from three knockout stage matches at Old Trafford, which are thought to bring in around £3m each.
Many United fans feel that last season was the one in which the debts loaded on to the club by the Glazers, now at £423m, finally started to bite into the performance of Ferguson's team. Its relative drop in fortunes will have dented the club's financial performance. Those figures are not the ones being presented to potential investors in Manchester United Ltd (Cayman Islands) in New York. Read More
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