United 'will not be pressured into spending'

Manchester United insist they will not to be pressured into spending the £80m they received from Real Madrid for the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Manchester United insist they will not to be pressured into spending the £80m they received from Real Madrid for the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Although Alex Ferguson has repeatedly stressed it is his decision to keep hold of the cash, it has not stopped consistent speculation that the money is required to be set against the mammoth £710m debt incurred by the Glazer regime.

The latest claim is that the purchase of defender Chris Smalling for Fulham has been delayed until the summer because United cannot afford the £12m fee.

It is an argument the Red Devils strongly refute.

And, after maintaining a diplomatic silence during the recent £504m bond issue, the Old Trafford outfit have decided to hit back.

A club statement read: “Manchester United is the most profitable football club in the world. Last year, on a record turnover of £278million, the club made a record cash profit of £91million. Interest payments were £41million and wages accounted for less than half of the turnover.

“The recent bond scheme has been very successful and provides the club with certainty in its interest payments, as well as greater flexibility with the removal of bank covenants.

“The cash from the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo is available for Sir Alex Ferguson to spend and it will be spent on players who are available for purchase and who the manager thinks can improve the squad, not to prove to pundits that it exists.”

The statement comes in the wake of news that renowned football finance expert Keith Harris is working with disgruntled Manchester United fans to try to broker a takeover of the club that would end the mounting debt problems imposed by the Glazer family.

Harris, a United fan who has been involved in several takeovers involving Barclays Premier League clubs, claims to have spoken to several interested parties as he attempts to put together a takeover proposal to put to the Glazers.

The executive chairman of investment bank Seymour Pierce began working on the project after being contacted by members of the Manchester United Supporters Trust.

“Yes, we have been approached,” Harris told the BBC’s Football Focus.

“We can lend our weight to doing something for the good of United and for the good of football – none of the takeovers that I have been involved in have involved any debt.

“They’ve been takeovers by people who’ve wanted to be involved for reasons other than money.”

Harris declined to name any of the people who have approached him, identifying them only as “The Red Knights”.

“A number of people have been to see me and I’ve had long chats with them,” he said.

“I know there are one or two people in senior positions in the financial services that have access to capital.

“We don’t know if the Glazers can be made to listen, but there is serious intent on the part of people who have support in their hearts. The time feels right.”

United’s debts have recently re-emerged as a hot-button topic among supporters after the full extent of the growing problems were revealed when the club issued £504million worth of bonds in a re-financing effort.

Harris shares the anger of his fellow United supporters.

“(The Glazers) are playing with an icon of football, one of the most respected brands in the world, and it is in danger,” he said.

“Seventy-five pence of every pound (fans) are spending is now going to the Glazers either for themselves or to pay debts.

“If these rumblings become a revolution and (fans) stop going – as difficult as it is for them not to go – and the pounds stop coming in, there is real peril.”

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