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Manchester United's Loan Deal ‘No Game Changer’

Scott Heppell

U.K. Premier League soccer club Manchester United has refinanced 178 million pounds ($268 million) of its debt in an effort to save 10 million pounds a year, but one analyst said the move would do little to improve the club's finances.

"Every little helps, but I don't see this as a game changer," Michael Jarman, chief equity strategist at U.K. trading company H2O Markets, told CNBC on Friday.

"If they are saving 10 million pounds a year then it's a bonus but it does not really change anything… If Manchester United has one bad season, and they don't get to the quarter finals of the Champions League for example, all these things will knock the revenue," added Jarman.

Manchester United, one of the world's most popular soccer teams with over 659 million followers worldwide, was bought by the Glazer family in 2005. The family borrowed extensively to cover the cost of the takeover, prompting concerns about the club's economic stability.

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In its third quarter results, released on May 3, the club said it had reduced its gross debt by more than 15 percent since June last year – but it remains over 360 million pounds.

The club's fresh loan deal with the Bank of America will reduced the amount of interest it pays on some of this debt, which could help alleviate concerns about its financial stability.

The interest rate on its loans will be cut from between 8.75 percent and 8.38 percent to a variable rate of Libor plus between 1.5 percent and 2.75 percent each year.

The club said that, if calculated today, the starting rate of interest would be around 2.78 percent - resulting in an interest reduction of around 10 million pounds per year.

Shares in the Manchester United, which was listed on the New York Stock Exchange last August, were up by around 1.3 percent on Friday. Since the start of the year, they have increased by around 26 percent.

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Jarman said the debt refinancing deal was an attempt to attract further investment, but added that he was surprised investors were still showing interest.

"I'm shocked the stock value has done so well - I think it is overvalued. It was pitched as a growth stock and to me it's not a growth stock," he said.

Jarman added that he would not be surprised if the Glazer family accepted a takeover bid soon.

"If someone came in with the right offer, they will just leave it. The Glazers are businessmen - they don't love the club in the way the fans do. If someone came in with the right offer they would just walk away," he said.

Despite the club's financial woes, Manchester United has performed well under the Glazer family, securing five Premier League titles and one Champion League victory. In addition, the club's economic position has been boosted by a number of high-profile sponsorship deals.

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