Manchester United's cash reserves fell by 100 million pounds ($158 million) in six months partially to finance an investment in the squad that is failing to maintain the English champions' dominance on the pitch.
As a result of spending that also took in stadium improvements and a bond repurchase program, the Old Trafford bank balance dropped from 150.6 million pounds to 50.9 million pounds ($238 million to $80 million) to Dec. 31, the club's quarterly accounts revealed on Tuesday.
Despite net spending of 48 million pounds ($76 million) on new players, including goalkeeper David de Gea, defender Phil Jones and winger Ashley Young, United exited the Champions League in the group stage in December and is now out of both domestic cups.
Meanwhile, neighbor Manchester City has established itself as the Premier League's new force, holding a two-point lead over United, which won a record 19th English title last May.
United spent 5.3 million pounds ($8.4 million) in the three months to Dec. 31 buying back bonds that were issued two years ago to raise 504 million pounds (then $762 million) to replace long-term financing and reduce debts to hedge funds.
United has now spent 92.8 million pounds ($147 million) repurchasing that debt - more than the 80 million pounds (then $130 million) received from Real Madrid in 2009 for the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The club's debt, resulting from the 2005 takeover by the American Glazer family, stood at 439 million pounds ($694 million) at the end of 2011 and incurred almost 24.5 million pounds ($39 million) in interest payments in six months.
Although the debt was down from the 508 million pounds at the end of 2010 it rose again in the final three months of 2011 by 6 million pounds ($9.5 million).
However, United's moneymaking abilities appear to be undiminished, with 175 million pounds ($277 million) generated in the six months to Dec. 31 - up more than 10 percent on the same period a year earlier due largely to a rise in TV income and a new training kit sponsorship deal with express delivery and freight firm DHL.
"Revenues continue to grow strongly although costs are increasing just as quickly so pretty much negating that growth,'' the Manchester United Supporters' Trust said in a statement. "However the key figures of interest to supporters show the Glazers have now spent every penny of the money received from the sale of Ronaldo, and more.
"That's now 92.8 million pounds spent on buying back their own bond debt that they loaded onto our club.''
MUST said that since Ronaldo's departure, net transfers totaled 90 million pounds ($142 million) while 225 million pounds ($356 million) had been taken out of the club to cover debt payments and interest.
"What could the club have done with that extra 225 million pounds? Cheaper tickets for loyal fans, investing massively in the squad and stadium, developing and retaining the best youth players, competing on an equal basis with the very best teams in Europe,'' MUST said. "This is the true cost to Manchester United of the Glazers' ownership.''