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The Devil's Advocate "REDitorial" commentary by Alex Paylor  "RED sky at night UNITED delight!"

The Dennis Viollet Fund

www.red11.org DAILY NEWS
Date: Tues Sep 15  GMT+00:00 1998
Mail: barry@www.red11.org

This Issue:
1. REDitorial "The Mirror & Murdoch" by Alex Paylor
2. IMUSA benefactor named
4. Sheri & Cole Suffer (ET)
5. United v Coventry Report from 'Manc'
6. Murdoch and ManU - how to turn a deal into a steal 
8. Fergie: "Bring On Barca!" (PA)


Daily RED Trivia  Tues 15th September:

1958: Chris Turner born in Sheffield. Costing £275,000 from Sunderland, Turner
made his United debut at Aston Villa in December 1985, and kept goal for United
79 times between 1985-88. He joined Sheffield Wednesday in September 1988,
and won a League Cup winners medal against United in 1991.  

1993: United win 3-2 at Honved (Hungary) in the European Cup 1st Round 1st
Leg watched by 9,000. Roy Keane 2 and Eric Cantona scored for the Reds. 
Team was: Schmeichel, Parker, Irwin, Bruce, Sharpe, Pallister, Robson, Ince,
Cantona, Keane, Giggs (Phelan).


Next 4 games: 
Index: http://www.red11.org/mufc/fix9899z.htm

Wed 16/9 Barcelona (H) CL
Sat 20/9 Arsenal   (A) PL 
Thu 24/9 Liverpool (H) PL 
Wed 30/9 Bayern M  (A) CL

UNITED Stats v Barcelona are here:
http://www.red11.org/mufc/stats/vsbarcelona.htm Url
http://www.red11.org/mufc/stats/vsbarcelona.xls Excel File


Date        Opposition                        Score   Pos.   Attend.
15/08/98    Leicester City           Home     D  2-2    11    55,052
22/08/98    West Ham United          Away     D  0-0    11    26,039
09/09/98    Charlton Athletic        Home     W  4-1     9    55,147
12/09/98    Coventry City            Home     W  2-0     5    55,193

"Roy Keane drives off from The Cliff Aug 98"

Subject: REDitorial "The Mirror & Murdoch" by Alex Paylor The RED-Devils_Advocate Published: Sept 13 98 "The Mirror & Murdoch" What do you expect to see when you look in the mirror? Well if itís that "toilet paper in tabloid" form known as the Daily Mirror, then the answer is......... crap. In a week of turmoil sparked by the United boardís decision to reach for the Sky, the thing that has angered me the most is the headline in Thursdayís Mirror Online over the story of the Redís win over Charlton. Look, I know the feelings between Rupert Murdochís newspapers and those in the Mirror Group are akin to those of United and Liverpool supporters but printing this garbage: GREED... 4 HONESTY...1 MURDOCH UTD BEAT BRAVE CHARLTON was below even the Mirrorís standards, which someone lying in a gutter would have to dig deep to reach. As I wrote to the Mirror in an e-mail, this headline does a disservice to the players of Manchester United who put together an excellent performance amid all the hype and hysteria surrounding the club and the Sky takeover bid. It was the PLAYERS who scored 4 goals against a team which to that point had given up no goals to any other Premiership opponent this season. It wasnít Martin Edwards, or any of the other board members who canít wait to pocket their profits. It was Dwight Yorke, a man who, having achieved his dream of playing for Manchester United, ran his heart out and scored twice in his home debut. It wasnít Rupert Murdoch or any of his yes-men on the field fighting back to win by three goals after falling behind by one in the first half. It was Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, grateful to have been given the chance to prove his loyalty to Manchester United and itís fans, who scored half of the teamís goals on Wednesday night. When Solskjaer scored he kissed the club badge on his shirt, not his wallet. To the morons at the Mirror who wrote, and approved this rubbish, I can only say, hate Rupert Murdoch, and your rivals at the Sun and the Times all you want. Having been in the journalism business for nearly 20 years, I know all too well about the rivalries between competitors. I know very well the good feeling which accompanies having written something clever. But I also know about journalistic ethics, and fairness in reporting. And that headline, while deemed clever in some circles, I suppose, was unfair. GREED did not beat Charlton 4-1 on Wednesday night. The PLAYERS of Manchester United did. And no amount of sarcastic claptrap spewed forth by the workers at the sleazy rags which masquerade as "newspapers" can alter that. Oh, by the way, no-one at the Mirror ever answered my e-mail. Iím not surprised. Too busy trying to come up with "witty" headlines, I suppose. Much has been made of the Murdoch maneuver, and I have to admit to mixed feelings about it, and a barrel load of unanswered questions. His purchase of, and subsequent actions with, the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team have been well documented. You have no doubt heard about the dismissal of Dodgers field manager Phil Russell, a 32-year Dodger employee, and the trading of catcher Mike Piazza for four players. That deal, by the way, added about 19 million dollars to the Dodgers payroll. Now some might point to that fact to declare Murdoch will spend more money to improve the team after shelling out millions to buy it. But I wonder about that. I have to ask the question, will Murdoch be willing to spend millions more pounds on players after shelling out over 600 million of them to acquire the club?. Even pockets as deep as Murdochís have bottoms, and it wouldnít surprise me to find spending slashed at Old Trafford in an effort to recoup that investment as quickly as possible. As far as the firing of Russell, and the trading of Piazza go, much has been made of these two occurrences. But few managers or coaches in any sport make it through their careers without being fired at least once. Fewer and fewer players, especially in North American sport, play their entire career with one club. It is interesting to note that when a player in Major League Soccer, baseball, American Football, hockey, or basketball is traded he doesnít have the Solksjaer option. He can not say "I donít want to go, and I will stay here and fight for my place in the team" The North American professional athlete is a chattel, and if sold or traded must report to his new team or he is not allowed to pursue his career. The Murdoch executive who couldnít name Manchester Unitedís left back has been the butt of many jokes, but I have to say I would rather have someone like this involved than someone who THINKS he knows the game. I can think of too many examples of owners who THINK they know the game interfering with player acquisitions and team selection. Take New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, for instance. When he first bought the club, Steinbrenner believed he knew all there was to know about baseball and wasnít slow to tell people that. Unfortunately the people he told this to most often were those working for him, men who had been around the pro game all of their working lives. It was soon apparent that Steinbrenner knew far less than he thought. Well it became apparent to everyone but Steinbrenner. Throughout the years in which he actively interfered with the team, the Yankees became less of a force in baseball. George would storm into the locker room and berate the players. They all knew he didnít have a clue, and the lack of respect among Yankee players for the man who paid their salaries was unanimous. But in the past several years big George has been far more willing to leave the running of his team to those he hires to do the job. And the Yankees are once again a dominant force. My point here is you have to hire people who know the game, and let them get on with it. No matter how much you want to go to the sidelines or dressing room to give the players the benefit of your knowledge, control the urge. Let those you hired do their jobs. Go the dressing room only to congratulate the lads. To the manager say only "Do your job, win trophies, entertain the fans, and the profits should take care of themselves." If the team doesnít win trophies, entertain the fans, and make money, out goes the old manager, in comes the new. What scares me about the Murdoch deal going through is the manís management style, the way he treats, or if you like, mistreats the people who work for him. In my almost two decades of working in broadcast journalism I have been employed at stations owned by individuals, or corporations, who really cared about their employees. I have also worked for the other kind. Individuals and corporations who cared only about the bottom line. Employees were discardable parts of a machine. Parts which could be easily replaced, and usually at a cheaper price. It has been my experience that, eventually, the talented move on, unwilling to work for the employer to whom they are, not a human being, but a piece of the machinery. Others in the industry get to know who these owners are, and will turn down any offers of employment from them. From what I have heard, and read, Rupert Murdoch is this kind of employer. My fear is he, although he knows nothing about football, will want to take an active role in the running of the club. Alex Ferguson is no manís fool, and I canít see the United manager taking any crap from the likes of Murdoch, or his underlings. The first time Murdoch placed one of his famous "designed to intimidate" phone calls to Ferguson, I am willing to bet the Australian would find himself on the end of some Scottish invective which would roughly translate into "Stuff your job." And there would be a line of clubs willing to take Alex on as their manager should that happen. There is always a willing market for the truly talented. I strongly believe Manchester United have the best manager in the Premiership, as well as the best players, and the thought we could lose any of them because of the Murdoch ego sickens me. The bottom line then is if Martin Edwards and the champagne set who occupy the board room at Old Trafford really want to cash in, then listen to all other offers, and hope one comes in for the right amount of money from a bidder who recognizes the people who work for them are human beings. Personally I think the amount of money Martin Edwards is set to make from this deal is obscene. However much he professes to care about Manchester United, I question that he understands how we, the supporters feel. How can he? When he was a kid he went to Old Trafford with his dad, hobnobbed with the board, sat in a privileged area of the ground, and watched dadís employees at work. When most of us were kids we got off the bus or train about two hours before kick-off, walked to the ground, lined up for as long as it took to get past the turnstiles, paid our way in with part of our pocket money, and then stood on the terraces for the best part of three and a half hours in all kinds of weather to watch our heroes perform. To me, this is where the bond between club and supporter is formed. I know I appreciated the talent, and the hard work those players put in, and I felt they were doing it for me, and every other supporter young and old. I know the players appreciated the supporters then too. I know this because players like Harry Gregg and John Connelly made me feel it when I was 10 years old and my best friend and I knocked on the doors of their houses, looking for an autograph. Both of these men invited my friend and I into their homes, and spent time talking to us, making us feel welcome, and, most of all, making us feel as much a part of Manchester United as they were. I donít think Martin Edwards will ever understand how much those occasions meant to me, and who knows how many other youngsters these men greeted in that way. He never had to gather the courage to knock on those doors and find his voice to speak to his heroes when they answered the door. To me the essence of what it means to be part of this club is rooted in those childhood days. To sell this club to any one is selling part of my soul. And if I my soul is to be sold to the devil then Iíd at least like some say in the decision. ***************************************************************** Comments/Email to: The RED-Devils_Advocate red_devils_advocate@yahoo.com Guest Book: Sign http://jupiter.guestworld.tripod.lycos.com/wgb/wgbsign.dbm?owner=reditorial View http://jupiter.guestworld.tripod.lycos.com/wgb/wgbview.dbm?owner=reditorial RED Regards Alex Paylor, Barry and Bill!
"Roy Keane drives off from The Cliff Aug 98"

Subject: IMUSA benefactor named QUEEN STAR BACKS FANS CAMPAIGN Queen rock star Roger Taylor has been named as the mystery benefactor who is backing Manchester United fans in their battle against the BSkyB takeover. Taylor has pledged £10,000 to the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association, which is fighting to overturn the acceptance by the directors of the £623 million offer for the club. Part of the money will be used to pay for a rally of supporters at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall tomorrow. It will also help the association set up a headquarters from which to fight the bid. Writer-musician Taylor, whose young son Rufus is a Manchester United supporter, urged others to follow his lead and help the fans. The supporters' association is hoping for around 2,000 at its meeting on Tuesday, aimed to mobilise support for the campaign. Taylor's support came as a surprise to the organisation and was "a huge lift", said spokesman Lee Hodgkiss. "We didn't know Roger Taylor was a United fan, but he is obviously concerned for the ordinary football supporter. We have always made the point that this is not just an issue that affects Manchester United, but all fans, regardless of who they support," he added. Taylor's publicists said that he would also release a special edition of his forthcoming solo single to include an additional track entitled "Dear Mr Murdoch", a song he has penned to the club's new would-be owner. Taylor said in a statement: "I heard on the news that IMUSA desperately needed the means to mobilise its opposition to the mighty Goliath. "As I was in a position to help I felt compelled to do so. I'm hoping that others will now come forward and want to do the same, to help those grass-roots fans hold on to the club they love."
"Roy Keane drives off from The Cliff Aug 98"

Subject: ROCK STAR BACKS UNITED FANS By Peter Beal, PA News Banks reaffirms his opposition Myystery client's rival bid Manchester United fans fighting BSkyB's proposed takeover of the club have called for wealthy supporters to follow rock star Roger Taylor's lead and fund their opposition campaign. Taylor, one of the founder members of Queen, was today named as the mystery benefactor who has pledged £10,000 to the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association (IMUSA). They are fighting to overturn the acceptance by the directors of the £623million offer for the outfit and they are holding a rally for fans at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall tomorrow. Taylor's money will go towards paying for the meeting as well as helping the association set up a headquarters from which to oppose the bid. But IMUSA chairman Andy Walsh, who was in London today to get a team of legal advisors together, now wants other football fans to stump up cash. "We've already spent in excess of the money that Roger has given us and we're asking other people who are interested in helping ordinary fans get their views heard to come forward," he said. "Roger Taylor's generosity has allowed the ordinary football fan the opportunity to have their anxieties and concerns heard. "We're now urging everybody to come along to our rally tomorrow to have their say on Rupert Murdoch's proposed takeover." Taylor is not expected to be at the Bridgewater Hall meeting tomorrow but IMUSA will read out a statement from him. The former Queen star, whose son Rufus is a Manchester United supporter, has also urged other people help the fans. Taylor said in a statement: "I heard on the news that IMUSA desperately needed the means to mobilise its opposition to the mighty Goliath. "As I was in a position to help, I felt compelled to do so. I'm hoping that others will now come forward and want to do the same, to help those grass-roots fans hold on to the club they love." Supporters' organisers are hoping around 2,000 turn up at tomorrow's meeting, which is aimed at mobilising support for the campaign. IMUSA spokesman Lee Hodgkiss, who admitted Taylor's intervention was unexpected, said: "It was a welcome surprise and gave us a huge lift. "We didn't know Roger Taylor was a United fan - to be honest we're not sure if he is - but he's obviously concerned for the ordinary football supporter. "We've always made the point that this isn't just an issue that affects Manchester United but all fans, regardless of who they support." Taylor's publicists revealed he would also release a special edition of his forthcoming solo single to include an additional track entitled 'Dear Mr Murdoch,' a song he has penned to the club's new would-be owner. © PA Sporting Life
"Roy Keane drives off from The Cliff Aug 98"

Subject: Sheri & Cole Suffer (ET) Sheringham and Cole suffer on the sidelines By William Johnson TWO-THIRDS of a billion pounds will find many ways to manifest itself around the lavish surroundings of Old Trafford during the coming months. Before a penny of Rupert Murdoch's takeover bid has been banked, however, Teddy Sheringham is already suffering from Manchester United's growth into the richest club in the land. Established internationals failing to reach the starting line in Premiership fixtures is hardly a new phenomenon as various strikers under Ruud Gullit's care have discovered to their frustration. A failure to secure a place on the substitutes' bench for a player of Sheringham's status borders on the intolerable, though. Alex Ferguson regards it as a problem he can deal with but United's manager admitted that unused members of his vast squad are less convinced about the merits of excess cover in all departments. Ferguson is now in the enviable position of being able to buy whoever becomes available without having to sell. When he spent a club record £12.6 million on Dwight Yorke last month initial suggestions were that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be surplus to requirements. Instead the young Norwegian has been re-established into the front line as Yorke's partner and, having repaid his manager's confidence by sharing four goals with Yorke against Charlton on Wednesday, there could be no disputing his worthiness for another chance against Coventry on Saturday. That left Andy Cole kicking his heels impatiently in advance of the crucial opening Champions' League date with Barcelona and Sheringham wondering what future role he has in Ferguson's Sky's plans. The manager's resolute capture of Yorke from Aston Villa just inside the European signing deadline is already shaping up to be an astute piece of business, despite the inflated price. Yorke looks at home in a United shirt and the wide grin which was his trademark in Villa colours is still much in evidence. Yorke will score classier goals than the third he got for United to open the scoring against Gordon Strachan's visitors, but as a grateful Ferguson observed in describing the finish to one of the best moves of a mundane encounter: "I've seen tap-ins missed." Another close-range stab by Ronny Johnsen early in the second half effectively convinced United that the points were theirs and Ferguson noticed an unacceptable slackening off in readiness for Wednesday's more demanding engagement. Johnsen, who has struck an impressive central defensive understanding with the expensive Jaap Stam, is the biggest fitness worry, having damaged an ankle late on. He limped away as Coventry were enjoying their brightest spell during which Barry Quinn, a teenage debutant should have raised their hopes of a salvage operation by shooting past Peter Schmeichel from the six-yard line. Dion Dublin, still warmly remembered at Old Trafford for his efforts in Ferguson's pre-title-winning seasons, could also have embarrassed his former team-mates. But one felt United could have regained their ascendancy if threatened - a theme developed by the irrepressible Strachan. "It's worthless propaganda to tell us how well we did," he said. "We've come away with nothing and we never really looked like coming to terms with what it takes to win here. We were like somebody going to the dentist, knowing that there was going to be some pain and just wanting to get it over with." The pain might have been more severe if the busy Yorke had taken the two other first-half chances which came his way - a near-post header from David Beckham's cross and a close-range effort after Paul Scholes's shot had been blocked.
"Roy Keane drives off from The Cliff Aug 98"

Subject: United v Coventry Report from 'Manc' Anyway, after not getting to sleep until 2am on Friday, I was slightly bleary eyed as I awoke at 6.40am for the trip oop north. A quick shower sorted that that out though and I took a look outside to see a bright but frosty February type morning and so decided I'd wear just a United top and a flimsy jacket (which later proved to be a bit of a mistake). I almost missed the bus to East Croydon station as well, whilst trying to get to an irritating spot inside my right nostril, but we won't go into that! I eventually arrived at Victoria Station at around 7.40am and opted for some piece of shit from Burger King to line my stomach - not a good idea, especially as I had to eat it on the run to the coach station where I found the London Branch coach already waiting and on time (now theres a first.) However, I had to grab a sarnie and some drink so strolled to the garage over the road first. I boarded the coach to find all the window seats taken. I'm never quite sure which type of seat I like - Window seats have the advantage that you can fall asleep against the window and gain infinite pleasure from studying the passengers of the passing cars, but aisle seats have the advantages of being able to stretch your legs and see the video screen better. Still, I had no choice this time so aisle seat it was! The coach hasn't really changed that much, the same gobby greeks who sound like that Hulios Georgio(?) bloke from 'The Fast Show' as they go blah di blah di blah 'Old Trafford', blah di blah 'Manchester' etc. It's also full of cockneys with Eastender type cockney accents which irritate the f**k out of me. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against cockneys, I play in a football team full of them - most of whom are good mates, but like I say to them too, I just hate their f**kin accents. I sometimes get the feeling that they're gonna get out the jellied eels and a grand piano whilst they sing 'My old mans a dustman' on the London Coach. Theres also a guy who reminds me of Mike Reid (Pats husband from Eastenders) which doesn't help! We took the new M1/A50 route up to Stoke to avoid the M6 as was prefered near the end of last season and so arrived at Old Trafford at around 12.15pm which isn't a bad time. My only worry was that several times during the journey it had pissed it down with rain, but I arrived at the ground to find it quite pleasant and so went off to get a chip muffin before walking up to the Throstles Nest for a pint. I was meant to be meeting Alan there to get hold of a voucher but as per usual he had been caught up in traffic on the M6 so I arranged to meet him outside the membership office. Again, the rain disappeared for the 20 minute walk to the stadium where I met Alan in his fluorescent yellow jacket and bright white trousers. Paul Wheelers suggestion that he caused the accident on the Motorway due to the glare in the face of the other drivers may well be substantiated!! I handed in my application for Munich tickets and we strolled off to take our seats in the stadium. With not having enough time to grab a pie, I grabbed a programme and made my way down to the seat at the front of the Second tier which had a cracking view, however I didn't like the fact that there was a 20 ft drop in front of me! I looked at the front of the program to see the picture of the proposed new development to the East and West Stands and was a little dismayed to find that it makes the stadium look like a junior school project made from egg cartons - Why can't they just put one huge roof around the entire stadium rather than bits here and there. The millenium dome has a roof that would cover the whole of Old Trafford quite easily - if they can perform engineering feats like that fairly quickly and simply in London then why not look for an alternative to make the stadium look a little more attractive from the outside - I know I'm being picky but I want a stadium which makes people stand back in amazement. Comments I've heard from people down here range from 'It looks odd' to 'it doesn't fit in with the rest'. For those who don't know, the pic shows the 3 tier stand before going back to 1 tier in the quadrent then back up to 2 tiers at either end and then back to 1 tier for the quadrents and main stand. Paul Wheeler made a comment about drainage problems if all the stands were stooped at an angle but I'm sure those people at the front wouldn't mind wearing macs ;-). Anyway, as I got into my seat I soon found out I was sat next to statto on my left and a guy with binoculors on my right - I'm not sure whether he was watching the game or looking for someone in the crowd half the time, but there disappeared any chance of atmosphere in my immediate sector. Even the chants of 'Stand up if you love Man U' only brought a few of us off our seats - the rest couldn't be bothered, but put up with it for a few moments. The game from the 2nd tier, well, I thought Giggs and Beckham were both well off form, especially in the 2nd half, although Becks had a good effort with a free kick. Giggsys head seemed faster than his feet at times as on a few occasions he ran off without the ball and it came as no surprise when they were both substituted. Dwight I thought had an excellent 1st half and Stam was superb throughout the entire game marking Huckerby and Dion out of it for the most part as Strachan went mental on the byline. The ref seemed to play far too much time in the first half especially as I was dying for a pie and when the whistle did go, I made a dash for the stairs only to find a lot of other people had beaten me to it. I finally made it to the front of the kiosk only the hear the killer words 'Out of Meat and Potato' ring out. However, I was a man with a mission and so made my way further down the North Stand to the next outlet and queued again, though with a little more determination this time. The girl serving was getting a lot of comments from the lads around me mainly because of her rather large cleavage and low cut top - your eyes would have been twinkling Alan ;-) and I honestly tried to aim my eyes at her face as I ordered, although it was very difficult!! I got back to my seat as the game kicked off and just as I started eating Ronnie scored and I jumped up and dropped half my pie onto binoculor man next to me, but he didn't say anything, so I didn't apologise, especially as I thought he had been asleep half the game. The rest of the half seemed pretty dull and by 4.55 there was an entire row next to me which was empty as we were god knows how many minutes into injury time. It then started to piss it down with rain and I laughed as I watch all of East Stand Lower run for cover as a whole. After the final whistle I thought the rain would die down by the time I got down to ground level but it just started to rain harder and I started to get wetter. I stopped off for a spud and strolled along to the coach park eating spud in the rain, soaking wet and no longer caring about it. I looked like a drowned rat when I reached the coach though I could have hung around under shelter considering we didn't even make it out of the car park for another half an hour. On the way back, it was dark and pissing it down with rain and it began to feel more like winter with every passing moment as I was desparately trying to dry off. The bright moment came when the lights were turned off and the bright green neon lights were turned on (it's one of them posh new luxury coaches!) for the Munich Testimonial Video which I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to anyone. I then slept for a while and we arrived in London at 10pm, and I didn't feel too good so made my way home through all the glaring looks I always receive when I wear my United Shirt on the way back from a match. Anyway, I've learn't my lesson and bought a rain jacket which I'll take to Barca on Wednesday - I'm especially looking forward to that as I'm in East Upper and will undoubtedly be polishing up on the songs - see you all there!! 'Manc'
"Roy Keane drives off from The Cliff Aug 98"

Subject: Murdoch and ManU - how to turn a deal into a steal By Catherine Evans LONDON, Sept 14 - Fans of British soccer club Manchester United *, already fuming over the planned sale of their pride and joy to Rupert Murdoch, may have reason to fume even more. Today's sophisticated financing techniques mean the Australian media mogul may not even have to stump up any cash to buy the most famous name in the game. Investment bankers say Murdoch could borrow the money he needs to buy the club using Manchester United's own future earnings from ticket sales, television rights and merchandising -- rather than Murdoch-controlled assets -- as security. In other words, he could raise the 623.4 million pound ($1.03 billion) purchase price and commit the club itself to paying it back out of future revenues. It is a process known as securitisation. "A soccer club is entitled to a number of income streams suitable for securitisation," said David Bonsall, managing director and head of Asian and European securitisation at CIBC Wood Gundy. "(Murdoch) could use any of them to refinance his acquisition costs." British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) *, Murdoch's satellite television company, last Wednesday agreed with Manchester United's board of directors to buy the club. The deal sparked uproar among football afficianados, who feel Murdoch will hold too much power in the game. BSkyB has not commented on how it would finance the purchase. Meanwhile, there are reports of a potential rival bid. Previous soccer securitisations have been based on revenues from future ticket sales, but bankers say Manchester United's massive merchandising operation might also provide a suitable income stream. "No-one has ever securitised flows from sales of merchandising, but if anyone could, Manchester United could," said Tony Fraher, chief executive of Singer & Friedlander Investment Funds, who manages a specialist football fund. "Man U" now makes more money off the pitch than it does on it, selling replica shirts and Manchester United whiskey. There are even special Man U superstores as far afield as China and Thailand. Some fans complain the club ruthlessly exploits their loyalty. Securitisation of television rights is seen as less likely, as BSkyB already owns exclusive rights to screen English Premier League soccer matches until 2001. But bankers say Murdoch may plan to show Manchester United matches via his Star satellite channel in Asia, where the club is hugely popular. "He could put (matches) out on Star as pay-per-view and securitise that. That would effectively give him the whole thing for nothing," Fraher said. Rich future pickings from worldwide pay-per-view are assumed to have prompted Murdoch's bid for the club. But precedent suggests that any securitisation is most likely to be based on future ticket sales at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium. Italian soccer club Lazio sold 50 billion lire ($30 million) of debt secured on future ticket sales last year. In July, Consortium Stade de France SA (CSF), which operates the showcase Paris stadium which hosted the 1998 World Cup final, raised 799.3 million French francs ($133 million) by securitising future ticket sales at the venue. CSF cut its borrowing costs by paying a bond insurer to guarantee interest and principal on the debt. The guarantee was enough to secure the bond a triple-A rating despite the fact that none of the individual consortium members had a credit rating. Even without a guarantee, securitisation is a comparatively cheap way of raising funds, as investors consider debt backed by specific revenues less risky than debt payable out of a company's general income. BSkyB's relatively low Baa2/BBB- ratings mean securitising Manchester United's assets would probably be cheaper for Murdoch than raising money via a loan or in the mainstream bond market, bankers say. CIBC's Bonsall noted that because securitised debt does not show up on a company's balance sheet, securitisation would also allow BSkyB to circumvent a threatened cut in its credit ratings. Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's last week both said they might downgrade BSkyB, citing concern about increased indebtedness after the deal.
"Roy Keane drives off from The Cliff Aug 98"

Subject: EXCLUSIVE! HAS MURDOCH BID FOR STRIKER BEHIND FERGIE'S BACK? Manchester United fansí worst fears will soon be realised if sensational reports emanating from Italy right now turn out to be true. Football365 understands that Rupert Murdoch has made a bid of £10m to bring Perugiaís Japanese international Hidetoshi Nakata to Manchester United - even before his company BSkyB has taken over at Old Trafford. If the story is proved to be true, the implications of the deal will be enormous. Nakata, Asiaís footballer of the year, is a superstar in his native country and his presence in the United first team would generate massive interest in the club in the extremely lucrative far eastern market. Murdoch himself owns Star TV, the regionís premier sports channel, where the possibilities of screening Unitedís games featuring Nakata are only too obvious. But the political situation inside United will be utterly explosive if indeed it turns out that Murdoch himself is now making decisions on which players to buy based on commercial strategy rather than pure footballing issues. Murdochís alleged move is reported to have come barely 24 hours after Martin Edwards and Skyís Mark Booth sought to reassure the clubís fans that the only thing which would change at Manchester United Football Club was the name of the plc that owned it. Yet how much influence manager Alex Ferguson will have in the future on player signings would now be open to question. Presumably Ferguson would also be under pressure to play Nakata - a £10m benchwarmer will do little for the ratings. If the bid for Nakata is confirmed, then it might even spell the end of the proposed takeover. The United board will surely have second thoughts as to the suitability of a man who breaks his promises so quickly; if they choose to stick to the deal, then it increases the likelihood that the government will step in to block it. Critics have cited Murdochís editorial interference in his different media operations as proof that he cannot be trusted to stick by the promises made on his behalf that Unitedís current regime would have continue to run the club unmolested. A prime example of editorial interference came earlier this year when the row over Chris Pattenís memoirs left Murdoch with egg on his face. The former governor of Hong Kong is highly critical of the Chinese government in the book; Murdoch ordered his company HarperCollins to break their contract with Patten, for fear of offending the Beijing authorities at a time when Star TV is breaking into one of the largest, but most regulated, TV markets in the world. Internal memos proved his involvement in the decision, and the editor responsible for the Patten book
"Roy Keane drives off from The Cliff Aug 98"

Subject: Fergie: "Bring On Barca!" (PA) FERGUSON: BRING ON BARCELONA Manchester United plan to come out with all guns blazing against Barcelona in Wednesday's Champions' League clash at Old Trafford. "It's fabulous. You can't wait for these games," said manager Alex Ferguson. "You know they are always going to be hard. We've made mistakes in European ties in the past and we know they can be nervous occasions but we all want it." United are in one of the toughest groups after qualifying as Premiership runners-up. They face Bayern Munich, Brondby and Barcelona, but Ferguson said: "It's a difficult start for Barcelona too. They have to think about that and we'll make sure it's difficult. "I know it's a tough group but if we can win this one we can put them on the back foot right away, and that's the name of the game. "It's important we win and while it's not the be all and end all, we'll go all out for a win." Ferguson has to wait for defender Ronny Johnsen who has a swollen ankle before confirming his plans. Henning Berg is ready to replace him and David May is also on standby. A certain starter is Dwight Yorke, whose three goals in two home games have set Old Trafford alight. "He has got that excitement about him," said Ferguson. "He's got lovely balance, he turns players and is exciting and he's a Manchester player. Over the years, this club has produced some exciting players and he comes right into that category." Yorke said: "This is massive. We're all looking forward to it and nobody more so than me. I know it's a little special for me but I'm going to treat the game like I have treated every other and go out there and try to enjoy myself. "If we can beat a quality team like Barcelona, then who knows?" © PA Sporting Life
"Roy Keane drives off from The Cliff Aug 98"

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