Manchester United executives and owners ring the opening bell at the NY Stock Exchange

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.

Crew SC announce MLS Cup 2015 sold out 15 hours after qualifying

Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew SC
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The building formerly known as Crew Stadium has hosted its fair share of famous soccer games since it opened in 1999 — dos a cero, anyone? — and Sunday’s MLS Cup 2015 looks set to rank right up there among them.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Roughly 15 hours after advancing to this year’s MLS Cup, which they will host this Sunday (4 p.m. ET), Columbus Crew SC announced on Monday that MAPFRE Stadium is officially sold out.

Crew SC president of business operations Andy Loughnane addressed the fanbase in a blog post on the club’s official site Monday afternoon and said, “As of late this morning we are sold out of the extra capacity seating that was created for MLS Cup at MAPFRE Stadium. While there is a small chance that additional seats could be released for purchase as a result of MLS holds being returned, we are sold out of all known available seats.”

[ MORE: Beckham group abandons yet another stadium plan, site in Miami ]

Crew SC, making their second MLS Cup appearance in club history (2008 champions), will host first-time MLS Cup contestants, the Portland Timbers, on Sunday.

PL clubs combined to pay out $200 million in agent fees in 2015

Liverpool Unveil New Signing Christian Benteke
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What a time to be an agent in the footballing world, eh? The rich just keep getting richer and richer and richer.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The steady increase in transfer fees being paid for players — bad, good, great and amazing alike — has made quite a few “selling” clubs rich reach over the last decade or two, to be sure, but it’s also made another group of people obscenely rich: player agents.

As the soccer world has gone crazy with its “now, now, now” approach — managers must win now, or they’re fired; new signings must become stars now, or they’ll be sold; etc. — agents are the ones making out like bandits — no losses to be sustained on players who turn out to be flops; no future loss of wages due to taking “too long” to settle in and being labeled a flop — at the expense of clubs and, most cruelly, the players.

More than $195 million was paid out agents by Premier League clubs across the January and summer transfer windows, with Liverpool — ever the club in constant change — paying out $21.5 million in agents fees to remain top of the table for a second straight year. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal were the four other clubs to top $15 million.

[ MORE: Premier League Payback — The Diego Costa era over at Chelsea? ]

Agents not only receive a fee when players change clubs through transfers, but can only be compensated again and again when one of their clients signs a new contract with their current club.

For instance, Wayne Rooney has signed at least four new contracts since joining Manchester United in 2004, the latest of which came barely three years after he was given a new five-year deal in Oct. 2010 upon handing in a transfer request in an attempt to force a move to Manchester City. Rooney’s current weekly wage is reported to be in the neighborhood of $450,000. His agent, Paul Stretford, will have received a sizable payday upon negotiating the deal in Feb. 2014.

At the end of the day, sports are little more than a business, and it’s the ones who play the game — the political game, that is — the best, and most ruthlessly, who are making out like bandits.

Puksas Award finalists: Somehow absent is USWNT’s Carli Lloyd

Carli Lloyd, USWNT
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FIFA announced on Monday its three-man list of finalists for the 2015 Puskas Award, handed out each year to the player who scored the “most beautiful” goal of the past calendar year.

[ MORE: 2015 Ballon d’Or finalists ]

The three men up for this year’s honor are Alessandro Florenzi (WATCH HERE), Lionel Messi (WATCH HERE) and Wendell Lira (WATCH HERE) — all scorers of fantastically beautiful goals this year.

That means Carli Lloyd, who made the original list of nominees before being whittled down to just three, is shockingly tragically scandalously criminally not a finalist for this year’s award. Reminder: This is the goal we’re talking about.

[ MORE: Timbers reach first MLS Cup | Crew SC to host MLS Cup 2015 ]

So, here’s the case for Lloyd:

  • She scored from midfield
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final to complete a hat trick
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final to complete a hat trick in the 16th minute

How in the world is Carli Lloyd’s midfield goal to complete a 16-minute hat trick and win a World Cup final not a top-three goal of the year? You got some (more) explaining to do, FIFA.

Beckham group abandons latest plans for Miami MLS stadium

David Beckham
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All signs seemed to point toward an all-too-familiar outcome for the David Beckham-led investment group hoping to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to the city of Miami: another failed plan in their bid to build a brand new stadium.

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Earlier this month, newly-joined all-world sports executive Tim Leiweke warned that groups or individuals currently owning the various parcels of land surrounding the Miami Marlins’ baseball stadium, the latest site Miami Beckham United (MBU) had chosen, were making “unrealistic” demands and threatened to derail the project at that location.

Today, it’s been reported across South Florida that the group has altogether abandoned plans to build their stadium at that particular site. Miami city commissioner Francis Suarez confirmed that MBU were “moving in a different direction” — quotes from Local 10 News:

“It’s going to be withdrawn from the next agenda because the Beckham group has not acquired the private properties that are needed to construct the stadium on that site.”

“The residents expect us to hold these teams to the fire,” Suarez said. “A lot of times they’re financed by wealthy people and they want some sort of a public subsidy, which is very controversial as well, which is why we were going to take it to referendum.”

[ MORE: Timbers reach first MLS Cup | Crew SC to host MLS Cup 2015 ]

On Sunday, during halftime of the league’s Eastern Conference final, MLS commissioner Don Garber was asked about the Miami stadium situation, to which he responded, “We think Miami will be a great market. We found a reasonably good site. I’m confident that we’ll get something done there.”

MBU is reportedly being held to something of a deadline by the MLS board of governors, which meets every year ahead of MLS Cup, with this weekend’s sit-down thought of as a target date to have something concrete going forward. Meanwhile, Sacramento Republic FC, an MLS expansion hopeful currently playing in the USL (third division), announced last week they would be moving forward with building their brand new MLS-sized stadium, expansion bid or not.