© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Football Football – Premier League – Manchester United v Liverpool – Old Trafford, Manchester, England – August 22, 2022 General view inside the stadium before the REUTERS/Phil Noble match
(Reuters) – Manchester United said on Tuesday that it was beginning the process of exploring strategic alternatives, including a potential new investment or sale, 17 years after the American Glazer family bought the club. English Premier League soccer set.
The Glazer family are working with financial advisors on this process, which could lead to the sale of part of the Old Trafford club or investments including stadium and infrastructure redevelopment. , the club said in a statement.
Manchester United fans have called for a change of ownership and the Glazers have been the target of fierce criticism as the team has gone five years without a trophy. The last silver cup they won was the Europa League and League Cup in 2017.
Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer, United executive co-chairs and directors, said: “As we seek to continue to build on the club’s successful history, the board has authorized a thorough review. strategic alternatives”.
“We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and Manchester United maximize the key development opportunities available to the club today and in the future. ,” the statement said.
In August, British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe expressed interest in buying United, Reuters reported. At the time, Elon Musk also joked about his plans to buy the club.
Wealthy Asian tycoons, especially those from China, have bought European teams in recent years, including Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers and Italy’s Inter Milan .
Since then, however, football clubs have been viewed by China as unfavorable assets and any major overseas acquisitions seem unlikely at the moment, said Mark Dreyer, author of the book. Beijing-based “sports superpower” talks about China’s sports ambitions.
“It is almost impossible to understand how any entity with ties to China could justify buying and selling of this magnitude in the current environment,” he said. “…with China just now coming to terms with the reality of COVID-19, making the entire economic environment much more uncertain, no state agency would approve of this kind of deal.”
Bosses are under pressure with United sitting fifth in the Premier League mid-season, which has been suspended because of the current Qatar World Cup.
Shares of Manchester United jumped as much as 20% after Sky News first reported on the sale, giving the club a market capitalization of $2.6 billion.
The company was worth $2.5 billion at the end 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 immediately, marking a bitter end to the Portugal captain’s second term at Old Trafford after he said that he feels betrayed by the club.
The Glazers bought the club for £790 million ($939.07 million) in 2005 in a highly leveraged deal that has been criticized as burdensome for the club.
United has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2012, when the Glazers sold 10% of their shares via listing and have sold more shares since.
Raine Group acts as financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP as legal advisor to Manchester United.
Rothschild and Co. is acting as a financial advisor to the shareholders of the Glazer family.
Among the fan protests against the Glazers was one in May 2021 that saw the home game against Liverpool, one of the club’s biggest rivals, postponed. This is the first Premier League match to be postponed because of protests.
United and Liverpool were among a group of major clubs that said they wanted to form a European Super League in April 2021 but later withdrew, in part because of opposition from many fans in the UK.
According to club chairman Tom Werner, Liverpool are also “exploring a purchase”. In May 2022, Chelsea Football Club was sold to a consortium led by an investment group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital for $3.2 billion (£2.5 billion).
United finished sixth last season in their worst Premier League campaign in terms of points earned, failing to qualify for the European Champions League.
They won the last of the top 20 league titles in 2013, the year the great Alex Ferguson stepped down as manager after more than 26 years at the helm.
The club hired Dutch coach Erik ten Hag from Ajax Amsterdam in an attempt to turn their fortunes around.
($1 = 0.8413 British pounds)