- Glazers considering multiple options, including new investment to support United’s growth
- Family bought club for UK£790m in 2005
- Move follows years of fan protests against owners
Manchester United could be sold after their owners the Glazer family revealed they were exploring ‘strategic alternatives’ for the English soccer giants.
United’s board confirmed a number of options would be considered, including new investment or ‘other transactions’.
The process will also include a look at several initiatives designed to strengthen the club, including stadium and infrastructure redevelopment, as well as the global expansion of commercial operations.
Investment banking firm The Raine Group is acting as United’s exclusive financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP is serving as legal counsel. Rothschild and Co is in place as the exclusive financial advisor to the Glazer family shareholders.
United stated there can be ‘no assurance that the review being undertaken will result in any transaction involving the company’.
“The strength of Manchester United rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers,” said Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer, executive co-chairmen and directors of Manchester United.
“As we seek to continue building on the club’s history of success, the board has authorised a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives. We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximises the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future.
“Throughout this process we will remain fully focused on serving the best interests of our fans, shareholders, and various stakeholders.”
The Glazers may be exploring several investment opportunities for United, not just a sale, but this is the closest they have come in their 17-year reign to relinquishing control of the club.
It has been a tumultuous time for the family since their UK£790 million (US$1.34 billion) leveraged buyout of the Premier League outfit in 2005. Fan outcry has been consistently vicious, largely due to the Glazers heaping debt on the club and failing to meet expectations on the pitch over the last decade.
The owners have previously parted with ten per cent of their United holding via a stock listing in 2012 and have since sold further shares, with Avram Glazer putting five million of his shares up for sale in 2021.
Manchester United is arguably the most famous soccer club in the world and going on the market will spark a frenzy of interest. However, fans desperate to be shot of the Glazers should be cautious. Forbes values United at US$4.6 billion, behind only Spain’s Real Madrid and Barcelona, and the team would likely command a total fee higher than the UK£4.25 billion (US$5.22 billion) domestic rivals Chelsea went for for this year. The anticipated lofty asking price could make a fully-fledged sale unrealistic.
Interested parties will have to put up or shut up. Ineos founder Jim Ratcliffe had eyed a deal over the summer and US investors are expected to want in. State-backed involvement, though less likely, is another option.
Several factors have made the Glazers consider a sale. The supposedly lucrative European Super League, though still not technically dead, looks unviable following supporter backlash, and Newcastle United’s backing from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has increased competition domestically. The fact that soccer clubs and US major league franchises are selling for record sums is also tempting the family into finally cashing out.