Belfast Telegraph

UEFA spotlight on clubs’ debts

Manchester United and Liverpool's debts caused by the takeovers by their American owners have been branded “a burden” on the clubs in an official UEFA report into European football finances.

The so-called 'leveraged' takeovers where the owners borrow money to buy the club and then tie that debt to the club are highlighted as a potential problem in the report.

The European Club Footballing Landscape report says Premier League clubs' debts are £3.4billion, more than the rest of Europe put together with half of this debt coming from leveraged takeovers.

And although it does not mention the clubs by name, the £716million debt racked up by the Glazer family at United, and Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett's £237million debt to RBS, account for a major part of the overall Premier League figure.

The UEFA report says: “English clubs, where stadium ownership is the norm, contain on their balance sheets an estimated 48% share of the total value of European balance sheet fixed assets and 56% of Europe-wide net commercial debt. Just over half of this commercial debt has been placed into the club (or at a holding company level) recently as a result of leveraged buy-outs, so far acting principally as a burden rather than to support investment or spending.”

Premier League clubs' assets are £3.8billion, accounting for a 48% share of the assets among all European clubs. What is worrying for English clubs however is the total value of the debt is so close to the value of the assets.

In Spain, which has the next highest debt of £858million, the assets are worth £2.5billion, three times the value of the debts. In Italy, the debt is £442million and the assets worth £1.3billion. The report did not include the debts of Portsmouth and West Ham.

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