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from Breakingviews:

Manchester United’s crisis has silver lining

By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Manchester United fans won’t like this, but the club’s crisis is exactly what the soccer business, and United itself, needs. A manager ditched after 10 months, a lowly seventh place in the league, an enforced absence from European football: this is the kind of drama that keeps the sport exciting and secures future revenue streams. Nothing is more boring than a league dominated by an overwhelming team.

United was close to becoming England’s uber-club, winning five of the last seven Premier Leagues. The club has won more league titles than anyone else. This spell was only broken by the retirement of star manager Alex Ferguson, the boss since 1986. That’s an almost impossible act to follow. Successor David Moyes made some bad transfer picks, lost some key players to injuries, and presided over the club’s worst league performance in nearly a quarter-century.

Missing out on the Champions League, Europe’s top tournament, is humiliating but financially manageable. Last season this brought in 35.5 million euros ($49 million), or just 8 percent of United’s annual revenue. That is dwarfed by lucrative long-term sponsorship deals, like the $559 million General Motors is paying over seven years to appear on team shirts.

from Left field:

Manchester United likely to show patience with David Moyes…for now

Two defeats and one scrappy draw amid a hat-trick of pitiful performances in as many heavyweight bouts showed in no uncertain terms just why Manchester United manager David Moyes lamented over a tough Premier League start for the English champions when the fixture list was drawn during the close-season.

Sunday’s comprehensive 4-1 drubbing by cross-town rivals City, which followed a 1-0 defeat at Liverpool and a tame goalless stalemate with Chelsea, exposed all the chinks in the armour of a squad who won their 20th league title last season thanks to the scoring prowess of Robin van Persie and the firm steering hand of Alex Ferguson.

from Breakingviews:

Man Utd about to discover Fergie’s true worth

By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Alex Ferguson’s retirement should worry Manchester United’s fans and investors as much as it delights long-suffering rivals. His triumphant 26-year reign has gone hand-in-hand with the soccer club’s equally impressive financial rise. Ferguson’s departure will reveal how much of that value depends on the manager.

from Left field:

Cristiano Ronaldo graceful in controversial Real Madrid triumph over Manchester United

Manchester United fans, players and manager Alex Ferguson will no doubt be fuming for a few more days about the controversial nature of their Champions League defeat by Real Madrid before the club’s attention turns to Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea at Old Trafford.

But even the referee’s decision to send off Nani when a booking seemed sufficient could not overshadow the graceful manner in which Cristiano Ronaldo handled the occasion of knocking out his former club at a ground where he is apparently still adored.

from Left field:

Is Chicharito the new Solskjaer?

Former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said recently it was his dream to take over as manager at Old Trafford one day and if he fulfills it in the foreseeable future, the 39-year old Norwegian could coach a lethal finisher that is almost a carbon copy of himself from his playing days.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez made an immediate impact after joining United in the summer of 2010, helping the club to their 19th league title with more than just a few vital goals.

from Left field:

United’s problems will not go away

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson rued what he called an unfortunate 3-2 defeat by Tottenham, United’s first to the North London side at Old Trafford since 1989, but the truth is that you can only ride your luck for so long.

Fortuitous wins against Southampton, Fulham, Galatasaray in their Champions League opener and especially at Liverpool, coupled with the opening day defeat at Everton, should have warned Ferguson that United’s relatively good start to the season belied their obvious weaknesses so effectively exposed by Spurs.

from Breakingviews:

Man Utd counts on investors behaving like fanatics

By Jeffrey Goldfarb
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.


Manchester United is counting on investors to behave like soccer fanatics. The English club’s committed supporters expect nothing short of greatness, an ethos that carries through to Man Utd’s initial public offering. Though devotees of the Red Devils are rarely disappointed, buyers of the stock at the mooted price probably will be.

from Breakingviews:

Man U’s New York listing crowns race to the bottom

By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
If Manchester United kicks off its public stock offering in New York this year, it will probably be touted as a triumph for U.S. capital markets. This is, after all, England’s top soccer team, and of all the listing venues the club could have chosen, not least London’s, it looks like Man U is coming to America.

But this apparent financial score isn’t worth cheering like an extra-time win. While U.S. exchanges dwarf the competition in raising capital this year, there’s a dark side to this distinction that investors should heed. Man U won’t be choosing New York because Americans are gaga for the sport. Just 1 percent of respondents in a recent Harris Interactive poll called soccer their favorite sport. Rather, the Glazer family, which also owns the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be taking advantage of the leeway America’s listing standards offer companies to practice poor corporate governance.

from Breakingviews:

Man Utd’s IPO transfer keeps owners in control

By Quentin Webb
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Manchester United’s IPO transfer will keep the Glazer family firmly in control. For months, the owners of the English soccer club had sought a $1 billion initial public offering in Singapore. Now the plan has switched to a U.S. listing, reports IFR. New York doesn’t seem like the natural venue for a soccer share sale. But it’s plausible the deal will still fly, and the lop-sided governance in plan A remains.

from Left field:

Chelsea vanquish Moscow ghosts

Some things are meant to be, others are not.

Frank Lampard said he never doubted Chelsea would win the penalty shootout against Bayern Munich in Saturday's enthralling 2012 Champions League final, although they trailed in the spot kicks after Juan Mata’s early miss, while the hero of their astonishing victory Didier Drogba firmly believes it was Chelsea’s destiny to cover themselves in glory.

And rightly so one might add, having suffered an exact reverse four years ago on a rainy night in Moscow, which ended in agony for Chelsea after they were ahead in the penalty shootout against Manchester United only to see the elusive trophy snatched away by their Premier League rivals after John Terry’s barely believable miss.

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