Will Ferguson’s retirement affect United’s finances?

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As the news about Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement continues to reverberate around the globe, one area many will be looking at is the stock market.

With Manchester United registered on the New York Stock Exchange, the club was obligated to inform the NYSE about Ferguson’s decision to retire, which ultimately led to the news being leaked earlier than the club expected.

The news was actually announced while US markets were closed, but when trading began in New York this morning the club’s shares fell as much as 4.5%.

Since the Glazer family bought United in a controversial deal back in 2005, the debt laden club have soared to success commercially. The value of the Manchester United brand is approximately $3.17 billion. They should survive, with or without Ferguson.

(More: Ferguson retires, who will take his place at Manchester United?)

However recently there has been a concerted effort by the Glazers to drive down debt, with a bond issue in 2010 raising £500m, and a 10% flotation of the club on the New York Stock Exchange raising some £150m, half of that has gone towards reducing debt.

But with Ferguson on the way out and investors watching intently as to who will replace him, should Manchester United fans worry about future financial problems?

Yes and no. On the plus side, when you scroll through Manchester United’s website no fewer than 33 different sponsors appear and commercial revenue is through the roof.

United recently posted their financial results in sales for the third quarter, a record £91.7m ($143m) was generated through sponsorship deals and Champions League revenue. The clubs debt now stands at $571 million, a lot healthier than the $1.11 billion that rose to in 2009.

(More: Stability key to Ferguson’s success at Old Trafford)

But all those numbers don’t mean much, unless you have a winning team.

The Manchester United brand means winning. It has been associated with that since the early 90s, growing up in England during that time period, it seemed like you couldn’t walk down any High Street in the country without the famous “Glory, glory Man United” song blaring out, a Cantona No. 7 shirt being worn and just about every piece of merchandise you can think of adorning their Red Devil mascot.

Fred the Red, as he’s known, gets everywhere.

Sir Alex Ferguson was the main man behind all the on-field success that drove the financial success. Now he is gone, a replacement who can carry on his work seamlessly and without much upheaval is paramount to United’s success as a soccer team, and as a business. Jose Mourinho would ease concerns for United’s financial backers, while David Moyes in charge could send share prices into a spin, as investors panic about the Scotsman’s lack of experience on Europe’s biggest stage.

(More: Moyes to replace Ferguson in next few days?)

We can’t judge United’s commercial success over the next few years. But in 2022 we may look back and point to May 8, 2013, as the day the Manchester United brand started to go downhill.

But with Ferguson’s new role as both a director and ambassador for the club, that’s unlikely to happen. He helped build this club up, almost doubling the capacity of Old Trafford and spreading the club from the red half of Manchester to the far flung corners of the globe.

One final number. In the 1992-93 season Manchester United’s revenue was £25.2 million. During the 2011-12 season, it stood at  £320.3 million. Safe to say that Ferguson has left United in a much better position than when he arrived at Old Trafford in 1986.

Now it’s up to the new guy to carry on his good work.

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia