Manchester United moneymen are ruining the club

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Today is a momentous occasion for Manchester United and everyone associated with the club. It's a day to be proud and reflect on the rich heritage of this giant of English football.

"Aeroflot, the Russian airline, is today celebrating its one year anniversary as the Official Carrier of Manchester United Football Club,” a press release bellowed today. 

It continued: "Bryan Robson, Manchester United Football Club Global Ambassador said: “It has been a real thrill meeting fans and passengers today with Aeroflot. And to mark the anniversary of Manchester United’s global partnership with the airline.


“With club having played across the globe over the past 12 months, Aeroflot’s strategic advice on travel arrangements has been invaluable to the club." It's enough to make any true Manchester United fan want to cry. 

Of course Aeroflot aren't the only obscure company that the Red Devils have got into bed with as they continue their merciless quest to extract as much revenue from pretty much every market as possible. At the last count they have 28 "partners' ranging from an official tyre partner to an official telecommunication partner in Nigeria.


This isn't a new topic. Ever since the Glazer family started syphoning off cash to finance the debts they piled onto the club in order to buy the thing in the first place the need to generate money away from the field has been more pressing. The latest estimate puts the amount taken from the club to service their debts at £680 million.

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Now, this week, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is expected to announce record revenue figures of around £420 million. At the last count earlier this, business experts Forbes placed them as the third-most valuable club on the face if the planet, with a value of around $2.8 billion.

These issues have hung around the club like a bad smell for some time so why bring them up now? The answer to that question is that it is hard to avoid the feeling that the business aspect of Manchester United is quickly engulfing the playing side of things which is turn tarnishing the true values and rich history of the club - and that is no more apparent than when it comes to the DNA of the first team.


Since Sir Alex Ferguson hung up his hairdryer, the powers that be at Manchester United have decided the bets approach to ensure success is to splash the cash in the transfer market. More than £200 million has been spent over the last three transfer windows and if reports are to be believed more will be spent when January rolls around. The true cost of that is that youth players may find their chances limited if big money players keep arriving - a quick glance at what is happening at Real Madrid highlights the danger of that particular policy, and Danny Welbeck's transfer is the first hint of that.

In fairness, 12 of their 25-man squad are "home grown" (not including the under-21's who  don't count towards that number) which is more than any of the other contenders, but Manchester United are at the start of this new approach and it wouldn't be a surprise to see that number drop in coming seasons. Plus only five are academy products and none of them will be a first-team regular - a long way from the days when the core of the team were Manchester through-and-through.


The increased commercialisation of Manchester United that is slowly eroding the core values that the club have always represented doesn't stop there. Van Gaal was unhappy that the pre-season tour to north America was dragged on longer in order to maximise their exposure across the pond, and even their signing of Radamel Falcao was hijacked by the moneymen so the Colombian striker turned up in a brand-approved Chevrolet.

The crass claims of Ed Woodward - a man put in charge of a Ferrari without a driving license it seems - will 'break the transfer record' and that they can afford 'a Suarez a year' don't exactly paint the picture of a club steeped in history that are willing to do things the right way. Bayern Munich are a huge club who get by on and off the field without the need to brag and boast.


The worst part? Fans don't seem to care. One high-profile Manchester United blogger recently boasted that they didn't need petro-dollars to complete their signings. True, but the do need to borrow a few quid from Mister Potato and Apollo Tyres in order to get their deals done. And the true price? Their logo sullied and slapped across any old product to be hawked around the world. It's neck and neck over which one is worse. The Glazers hijacked one of the most-loved clubs in the world into a business venture years ago and only a few batted an eyelid - and the fact that FC United, a splinter club formed in response doesn't get more backing is criminal. No one batted an eyelid because they won trophies, and it is as simple as that.

Manchester United will continue to be one of the biggest, most well-supported clubs in the world. They will win trophies and attract the best players, and get the biggest crowds, that's just the way the commercialisation of football is geared. But if you think the game is about more than that, more than just winning or losing, you should be able to see that the Red Devils lost their way some time ago. History and tradition are words exploited for a press release. They are losing their identity and no one seems to care.

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