October 23, 2012

LONDON (Reuters) -- The American Glazer family are long-term investors in Manchester United and have no plans to sell the English Premier League football club following flotation, Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward said on Tuesday.

United floated on the stock market in New York in August under a dual-share structure that left the Glazers firmly in control of the 19-times English champions.

A vocal group of fans has criticized the Glazers, accusing them of loading the club with excess debt when they bought it for 790 million pounds ($1.27 billion)in a highly leveraged deal in 2005.

"It's a very popular business that people have interest in. The answer is (it's) not for sale," Woodward said, when asked about the future ownership of the club.

"The opportunities that we see going forward and the excitement that they have in this is undiminished. I don't see them (the Glazers) selling completely for many, many years."

Woodward said the club now had gross debt of around 360 million pounds. It was comfortable with interest payments of around 31 million pounds this year on its own forecast for underlying earnings (EBITDA) of at least 107 million pounds.

He said the club was not being outmuscled by rival European teams in the transfer market for top players.

"We can compete for whichever players we want to compete for," said Woodward.

United signed Dutch international striker Robin Van Persie from Arsenal this summer for an estimated 22 million pounds and are second in the 20-team Premier League.

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