Man United bring the kids to SA
MANCHESTER United have named Rio Ferdinand as captain for their South African tour, and he will wear the armband against Amazulu and Ajax Cape Town this week.
Ferdinand was omitted from England's European Championship squad in the wake of his continuing feud with Chelsea captain John Terry, and so he is one of the United stars who is fresh and already in pre-season training.
He takes over from injured regular skipper Nemanja Vidic.
Along with midfield maestro Paul Scholes, Ferdinand will be one of the senior stars in what is otherwise a very young squad that does not include internationals Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra, Tom Cleverley, Ryan Giggs, Vidic, David de Gea, Rafael, Nani, Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck.
Ferdinand says that he expects the competition in South Africa to be tough, not just from their opponents, but within the United squad as well as they jostle to catch the eye of manager Alex Ferguson.
"You don't want to lose a game, simple as that, as Manchester United you want to win every match. You are disappointed losing games in pre-season," Ferdinand says.
"Each and every player wants to go out there and prove to the manager that they deserve to have a starting position in the team and all players believe that if you do well in pre-season, then the manager will give you an opportunity."
South African fans will get to see one of the stars of the future when United hand a debut to young England under-18 leftback Tyler Blackett against Amazulu. Blackett will fill in for France international Evra, who has been given an extended break due to his commitments at the 2012 European Championships.
The Red Devils are short of left-back options, which is why they are trying to sign Everton and England star Leighton Baines. United take on Amazulu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday and Ajax at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
The Manchester United tour comes a week after it was revealed that the club was hoping to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and raise $100-million to pay off some of the debt which has gone from nothing to $655-million since the club was bought by Malcolm Glazer, an American who also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team.
In June 2010, the club's debt reached just over $1-billion but was reduced in the last financial year with $388-million in new equity.
Glazer and his family bought control of the club, loading it up with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. Now, the owners are hoping to sell shares on the NYSE to raise money and reduce the debt.
The family tried to raise the money on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange but withdrew when it would not allow the family two classes of shares.
On the NYSE, the Glazers would be allowed to hold Class B shares, each with 10 votes, while the investors would get Class A shares, with only one vote per share. London Stock Exchange, the natural home for a Manchester United flotation, does not allow such a share structure. Singapore's stock exchange seemed amenable to the dual-class share scheme, but the listing there did not go ahead because of "market turmoil".
United, as part of their initial public offering on the NYSE, will use a new Cayman Islands company to sell shares, even though the club's operations are in Britain. The company and its owners declined to explain why they would incorporate in the Caymans.
A spokesman cited Securities and Exchange Commission restrictions on communications by companies preparing for an IPO.
But experts said the structure offers important perks to the Glazer family, who acquired Manchester United in 2005 for around $1.47-billion, borrowing heavily to buy the club. - Reuters and staff reporter