The Glazers have announced that they are preparing to sell Manchester United.
In an official statement, the owners of England’s most famous football club confirmed that they have put the club up for sale.
“Manchester United plc (NYSE:MANU), one of the most successful and historic sports clubs in the world, announces today that the Company’s Board of Directors (the “Board”) is commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club.
“The process is designed to enhance the club’s future growth, with the ultimate goal of positioning the club to capitalize on opportunities both on the pitch and commercially.
“As part of this process, the Board will consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the Company. This will include an assessment of several initiatives to strengthen the club, including stadium and infrastructure redevelopment, and expansion of the club’s commercial operations on a global scale, each in the context of enhancing the long-term success of the club’s men’s, women’s and academy teams, and bringing benefits to fans and other stakeholders.”
The news will send Red Devils fans into raptures, who have spent 17 long years protesting and railing against the hugely unpopular Tampa Bay family.
The possibility of a sale was leaked earlier this evening by Sky News reporter Mark Kleinman, who suggested that a full or partial sale was on the cards.
In response to the leak, United’s share price jumped by 17% almost instantaneously, demonstrating that investors believed that a full sale was a genuine possibility.
A partial stake is known to have been offered by the Glazers to the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund prior to their takeover of Newcastle United.
However this is the first time during the Glazers’ tenure that a full sale has publicly been on the table.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe was once seen as the most likely candidate to succeed the Glazers, however he recently distanced himself from the prospect of investing in any Premier League team.
Whether or not the club’s official availability draws him to the table is anyone’s guess, but there are sure to be investors from elsewhere, with American consortiums a strong possibility given the current strength of the dollar, as well as their interest in sports franchises.
Todd Boehly’s group recently bought Chelsea for around £4.25bn, although around £1.75bn of that was earmarked for investment into the club, leaving the real sale value at around £2.5bn.
A full sale of United will likely eclipse that figure, with Kleinman telling Sky Sports News that “a four of five billion pounds valuation doesn’t seem out of the question.” Fans will of course be hoping that significant investment will follow any purchase.
The Glazer family have overseen a period of sharp decline in on-pitch success since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement back in 2013, when they last won the Premier League.
United have been unable to compete with local rivals Manchester City and Liverpool and have been left behind in terms of industry standards involving club infrastructure and facilities.
Despite the failure to compete for the biggest trophies, the Glazers have continued to pay themselves dividends in the tens of millions every year. They even took dividends for the Covid-19 season, although they did defer the payment by a year. Added to the interest payments the club has been saddled with by the leveraged buyout, the Glazers are estimated to have cost the club around £2bn.
The failed European Super League bid, led by the Glazers, brought tensions to boiling point, leading to United’s Premier League match against Liverpool last year being forced to postponement due to organized protests by fans against the owners.
Thousands of supporters marched in protest again for the same fixture this season in August.
English football now finds itself in an unprecedented moment in its history, with its two most decorated clubs on the market at the same time.
Fenway Sports Group put Liverpool up for sale earlier this month and, as reported by The Peoples Person at the time, that might just have paved the way for a Glazer exit.
While the statement does say that “There can be no assurance that the review being undertaken will result in any transaction involving the Company,” this is the closest fans have ever been to seeing the back of the Glazer family, with them now listening to offers in an official capacity.