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$100 Million: Fergie's '07 Player Purse

On Jan.1, the Glazers, the American family that owns Manchester United, bestows upon Sir Alex Ferguson the team's annual spending budget, which reports say will be $49 million plus one superstar of Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo stature at a price also believed to be $49 million, subject to the family's approval. Not bad, you say, especially compared to the modest annual budgets MLS teams have to work with. But this is not Chelsea money; you can be sure that Roman Abramovich will outfit the Sky Blues with whatever the team needs to recoup its place at the top of the English Premier League standings. However, one should never underestimate the savvy of Sir Alex Ferguson. This, after all, is the man who allowed the club's three biggest stars to leave (the then-suspended Eric Cantona excluded) after the season. They wanted more money, but Fergie believed his FA Youth Cup-winning youngsters were ready, and thus launched the careers of Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers. Ferguson can do an awful lot with $100 million, even if Abramovich gives the Jose Mourinho administration $400 million to work with. Mourinho, after all, has not proven to be a savvy spender on the transfer market. Many of his initial signings have left or barely play at all anymore, and Andriy Shevchenko, the biggest of them all, so far looks a bust. Refinancing, soaring TV revenue-thanks in part to United's success--a lucrative sponsorship deal and a 12 percent ticket hike are all contributing to Fergie's available funds.

Read the whole story at London Times »

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