Manchester United was listed on the stock exchange on Wednesday with a market value of almost $2.5 billion. The share price rose by up to 15 percent after the sale plans became known, but then fell again.
“United is not just a football club when it has such a large global fan base,” said Joe Ravitch, co-founder of the Raine Group, explaining the attractiveness of the brand. The US bank Raine Group has already successfully completed the sale of Chelsea and is now set to support the Glazers as well. In addition, the family is advised by the London Rothschild Bank.
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United isn’t the only prominent name out there. The American Fenway Sports Group (FSG) had previously announced that it was considering selling Liverpool FC. It is no coincidence that two US investors have sales plans in the football business at almost the same time.
>> Read also: Liverpool FC owners are reportedly considering a sale
The reason lies in the attractive valuations of the cost-intensive investments. In May, a group led by US investor Todd Boehly bought Chelsea from Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich for the equivalent of five billion euros. The sale price, which was higher than the estimates and which also included an investment commitment of around two billion euros, apparently also whetted the appetite of the owners of Manchester United and Liverpool.
Both US investors are less and less willing to bid in the million-euro race for international superstars with the investments of Arab oil states. The top European clubs Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) belong to investors from Abu Dhabi and Qatar, respectively, where the World Cup is currently being held.
A year ago, a consortium led by the Saudi state fund PIF took over the traditional club Newcastle United for 360 million euros. The team known to fans as the “Magpies” is now also investing heavily in new players.
Ronaldo farewell a key factor
It is also no coincidence that the Glazer family’s sales plans became known on the day that former club icon Ronaldo left the club by mutual consent. The Portuguese has long been one of the most expensive football players in the world. In 2018 he switched from Real Madrid to Juventus Turin for a transfer fee of 117 million euros.
Aged 36, he returned to Manchester United last year – the club that gave him his international breakthrough. Ronaldo recently accused the Glazer family of “not caring about the club” in a TV interview. Then it broke. Nevertheless, Ronaldo’s immense brand value paid into the Manchester United brand.
The business magazine “Forbes” estimated the sales value of the club in May at around 4.6 billion dollars. The listed club ended the sportingly disappointing 2021/22 season with a net loss of almost 116 million pounds (133 million euros).
“We will evaluate all options to ensure we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the club now and in the future,” the Glazers promised in their statement.
Most United fans are unlikely to regret an exit from US investors. Since joining in 2005, there have been repeated protests. Which also has to do with the fact that the transaction of 790 million pounds at that time was mainly financed by new debts that the club had to shoulder. The failed plans to found a European “Superliga” may also have contributed to the Glazer family now looking for an exit.
There shouldn’t be a lack of people interested in the valuable brand. British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder and head of the chemical group Ineos, only announced his interest in Manchester United in the summer. At that time, the Glazers still declined. Ratcliffe declined to comment on speculation about a new offer on Wednesday.
Liverpool are also looking for a buyer
No matter who wins the race in the end, a new owner not only has to put a lot of money on the table for the club, the traditional Old Trafford stadium also has to be renovated at a cost of millions. There was a similar condition recently when Chelsea FC was sold.
The situation is similar 55 kilometers further west at arch-rival Liverpool. The club has been in a head-to-head race with Manchester City in the Premier League in recent years, but was recently unable to cope with the expensive purchases made by the team trained by successful coach Pep Guardiola and financed by Sheikh Mansour Bi Zayed Al Nahayn from Abu Dhabi defy.
FSG acquired Liverpool in 2010 for around £300m. Today, the workers’ club coached by Jürgen Klopp is more than ten times as valuable. The Boston-based US investor, who also owns the Red Sox baseball team, has commissioned the American investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to look for a buyer.
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