Manchester United said on Tuesday it had begun a process to explore strategic alternatives, including a possible new investment or sale, 17 years after the American Glazer family bought the English Premier League soccer club.
The club said in a statement that the Glazer family is working with financial advisors on the process, which could lead to a partial sale of Old Trafford or investments including the redevelopment of the stadium and infrastructure.
Manchester United fans were calling for a change of ownership and the Glazers were the target of intense criticism as the team went five years without winning a trophy. Their last titles were the European League and the League Cup in 2017.
Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer, United’s chief executives and directors, said in the statement: “In our quest to continue to build on the club’s history of success, the Board has authorized a comprehensive assessment of strategic alternatives.”
“We will evaluate all options to ensure we are providing the best service to our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future,” the statement said.
Reuters reported that British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe in August expressed interest in buying United. in time, Elon Musk He also joked about planning to buy the club.
And the owners are under pressure as United occupies fifth place in the English Premier League in the middle of the season, which was suspended due to the current World Cup in Qatar.
Manchester United shares jumped as much as 20% after Sky News first reported the sale, giving the club a market capitalization of $2.6 billion.
The company was valued at $2.5 billion at the close of US trading on Tuesday. At its peak as a public company, it had a market capitalization of $4.3 billion in 2018.
Also on Tuesday, the club said star striker Cristiano Ronaldo would leave with immediate effect, marking a bitter end to the Portugal captain’s second spell at Old Trafford after he said he felt betrayed by the club.
The Glazer family bought the club for 790 million pounds ($939.07 million) in 2005 in a highly leveraged deal that has been criticized for putting the club in debt.
United has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2012, when Glazers sold 10% of its stake via listing and has sold more shares since then.
The Raine Group acts as financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP is Manchester United’s legal advisor.
Rothschild & Co. acts as financial advisor to the shareholders of the Glazer family.
Among the fan protests against the Glazers was one in May 2021 that forced the postponement of a home match against Liverpool, one of the club’s biggest rivals. It was the first Premier League match to be postponed due to the outcry.
United and Liverpool were among a group of top clubs who said they wanted to create a UEFA Super League in April 2021 but then pulled out, in part over objections from many fans in England.
According to club chairman Tom Werner, Liverpool are also “exploring a sale”. In May 2022, Chelsea Football Club was sold to a consortium led by an investment group to Todd Boyley and Clearlake Capital for $3.2 billion (£2.5 billion).
United finished sixth in their worst season in the Premier League in terms of points gained, failing to qualify for the lucrative Champions League tournament.
They won the last of their 20 top flight titles in 2013, the year Alex Ferguson stepped down as manager after more than 26 years in charge.
The club signed Dutch coach Erik ten Hag from Ajax Amsterdam in an attempt to turn their fortunes around.
($1 = 0.8413 pounds)
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