Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

What price that Manchester United could be the Rangers of the south?

In all the machinations of the football summer, the hawking of Robin van Persie, the impending sale of Luka Modric and the latest "project" of AVB, no one from the executive office of the Premier League – to the backstreets of Salford – can have missed the elephant which is not only standing in the room but shutting out much of the light.

It is the fact that the owners of Manchester United, still the most magnetic if not successful club in English football, are going to the well again, this time with a Cayman Islands registration on the New York Stock Exchange.

Over the years, much of what has to be said about the imperilling of a brilliant, self-perpetuating institution has been said.

Rebel colours have been worn, white knights have been mobilised and retreated under the force of derision, and if there was a particular level of alarm raised by the fact that Old Trafford itself might have to be sold in certain circumstances, the public front has been one of mostly equanimity, even in the face of Manchester City's inexorable rise under owners who, whatever their wider motivations, have given rather than taken.

The latest eruption in the affairs of the club has reminded us that United have paid £500m in servicing the £400m-plus the Glazers had to borrow in their attempt to make United the family cash cow.

Some time ago the point of raw outrage was passed. Now, in the wake of the collapse of Glasgow Rangers, a bit of an institution in their own right, we can only speculate on what might be the worst that can happen south of the border.

The temptation is to say that it is not worth thinking about. But, of course, someone in what passes for authority in English football should.

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