The Glazer family have revealed that they are considering selling Manchester United as they “explore strategic alternatives” for the club’s future.
The Americans have been in charge at Old Trafford since 2005, when they completed a deal worth around £790 million to become majority stakeholders of the Red Devils. Over the years, however, fan perception of the Glazers’ ownership has soured drastically, with open protest a relatively regular occurence in recent seasons.
In 2012, the family sold 10% of their holding via a stock listing, and have since gone on to sell further shares in subsequent years. In August, a report from Bloomberg stated that the Glazers were willing to sell a minority stake in United. At the time, British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe said he would be interested in buying the club, before suggesting in October that its current owners had told him they did not want to sell.
It would appear that stance has softened, however, in light of this most recent update. Here’s everything you need to know about the situation at Old Trafford...
What have the Glazers said about the club’s future?
A statement from United, released on Tuesday evening, said: “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.
“Executive Co-Chairmen and Directors, Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer said: ‘The strength of Manchester United rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers. As we seek to continue building on the Club’s history of success, the Board has authorized a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives. We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes 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 Raine Group is acting as the Company’s exclusive financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP is legal counsel to the Company. Rothschild and Co. is acting as exclusive financial advisor to the Glazer family shareholders.
“There can be no assurance that the review being undertaken will result in any transaction involving the Company. Manchester United does not intend to make further announcements regarding the review unless and until the Board has approved a specific transaction or other course of action requiring a formal announcement.”
How much is Manchester United worth?
Should the Glazers indeed sell United, they are likely to make a significant profit on the £790 million they paid 17 years ago. The Americans’ most recent valuation of the club was $4.6 billion. That was figure was equivalent to around £3.7 billion at the time, but is now worth closer to £3.85 billion due to the dollar’s relative strength in recent months.
If a deal for United fetches anywhere near that valuation, it would still fall short of the £4.25 billion paid by Todd Boehly to purchase Chelsea earlier this year. That vast figure remains the highest price ever paid for a sports team. The Raine Group, who are acting as the Glazers’ exclusive financial advisor, helped to make that deal a reality back in May.
It is worth pointing out, however, that in the aftermath of Tuesday’s statement, United’s stock prices rocketed by 17%, equivalent to around £336.4 million in market capitalisation.