From the Economist, HERE.
WHEN Manchester City topped Manchester United on goal difference to win England’s Premiership title in May, it was a case of equity triumphing over debt. City, long the poorer and less successful soccer team, has soared since being bought in 2008 by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, and has been buying players as if money were free (which in the sheikh’s case it nearly is). United, by contrast, has found its ability to buy the best players constrained by debts of nearly $700m, nervous bankers and pending European “fair play” rules designed to ensure teams do not prosper by taking excessive financial risks.
Even when he is on form, Wayne Rooney (pictured), now United’s only genuine superstar, cannot win trophies on his own. Hence the forthcoming initial public offering announced on July 3rd. This is not a return to the full public-company status the Red Devils enjoyed between 1991 and 2005, when the club was taken private by the Glazer family of Florida, which also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an American-football team. Nor is it the $1 billion offering that was widely expected to take place in Singapore, which seems to have been abandoned because of volatile financial markets. Instead, United will list on the New York Stock Exchange, and will aim to sell only enough shares to raise $100m.
United’s brand is still reckoned to be the most valuable in football, at around $2.2 billion, according to Forbes magazine. But that does not make the shares a wise investment. The filing documents list more than 50 risk factors, from the performance of the team to reliance on the laws of the Cayman Islands.
United will not have to release much financial information, since the Glazers are taking advantage of America’s Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 to register it as a lightly regulated “emerging growth company”. (Is a 134-year-old club staffed by spoilt millionaires really the sort of “start-up” the law’s drafters had in mind?) New shareholders will have little say over how United is run, including whether it pays them any dividends. The shares the Glazers are offering are special ones with minimal voting rights. So the only return from this IPO is likely to be the victories the money raised brings on the pitch. This is an offering for fools and fans only.
The conflict between club and high school soccer — at least for the boys — is officially over. Club soccer wins.
On Feb. 10, the five-year-old U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which consists of 78 elite clubs nationwide blessed by U.S. Soccer as integral to its elite player development, announced that all teams will be on a 10-month schedule beginning with the 2012-13 season. (Some regions had already moved to 10 months, but everyone else had played seven.) So that means about 3,000 players of high school age will effectively be barred from playing for their high school teams. Simply, there won’t be time, and, frankly, the time on high school soccer was wasted, anyway. The folks at U.S. Soccer don’t say that exactly, but they might as well have. From the FAQ on the scheduling change:
Is U.S. Soccer saying that kids can no longer play high school soccer?
Every player has a choice to play high school soccer or in the Development Academy. We believe that for those elite soccer players who are committed to pursuing the goal of reaching the highest levels they can in the sport, making this decision will provide them a big advantage in their development and increase their exposure to top coaches in the United States and from around the world.
We are talking about a group of players that want to continue at the next level, whether that is professional or college, which is still the destination for a majority of our graduates.
Sure, you can player high school soccer — if you’re a spazz!
U.S. National Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, in the news release announcing the extended schedule, said elite players eschewing high school soccer is the price we as a nation must pay to reach World Cup-winning status, like Klinsmann’s native country, Germany.
“If we want our players to someday compete against the best in the world, it is critical for their development that they train and play as much as possible and in the right environment. The Development Academy 10-month season is the right formula and provides a good balance between training time and playing competitive matches. This is the model that the best countries around the world use for their programs, and I think it makes perfect sense that we do as well.”
Of course, in other soccer-playing nations, school sports were not the core of soccer, or just about any other sport. But this is America, darn it, and kids like to play for the glory of their school, too, right?
Read the rest of the Forbes piece HERE.
Manchester United put on hold its $1 billion Singapore stock market offering because of volatile global markets, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the club is not discussing its financial plans publicly, said United’s American owners are waiting for market conditions to improve before going ahead with the listing. Approval for the initial public offering already had been approved by Singapore’s stock exchange.
The Glazer family, which also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, plans to remain in control of United by making only 25 percent to 30 percent of the club available. The family wants to raise $1 billion to help to cut debts, which were $747 million on June 30.
If the Premier League champions do not list by the end of the year they will have to seek an extension. United’s planned listing values the club at far more than the $1.9 billion valuation by Forbes magazine, which has ranked it as soccer’s most valuable team the last seven years. The club was bought by the Glazers for $1.4 billion in 2005.
The wider economic instability has made the Glazers wary. Markets have been shaken by the possibility of Greece’s debt default, Italy’s debt downgrade and the International Monetary Fund’s warning that the global economy is growing far slower than anticipated.