Manchester Utd open to offers to sell the club, or take new investment

Manchester United is up for sale.

US-based owners, the Glazer family, announced they will “consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the company”.

They said they are starting a process “to explore strategic alternatives for the club, designed to enhance the club’s future growth, with the ultimate goal of positioning the club to capitalise on opportunities both on the pitch and commercially”.

A statement issued by the board last night said: “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 authorised a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives.

“We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximises 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 is legal counsel to the company.

Rothschild and Co is acting as exclusive financial advisor to the Glazer family shareholders.

The statement added that there can be no assurance that the review being undertaken will result in any transaction involving the company.

The board said it will make no further announcements on the process, unless, and until, it has approved a specific transaction or other course of action requiring a formal announcement.

The most recent valuation of the club was $4.6bn, or £3.7bn, but it is now more like £3.85bn due to the dollar’s strength in recent months.

In September the club announced its annual financial results which showed it had incurred a bigger annual loss and seen its net debt soar, despite an increase in revenues for the year to June 30, 2022.

Turnover of £583.2m was up from £494.1m the previous year. But the net loss for the year was £115.5m, compared with £92.2m in 2021.

The club’s net debt, in the year to June 30, 2022, stood at £514.9m, up from £419.5m the previous year.

The club said the increase in net debt was mainly due to £64.6m of unrealised foreign exchange losses and a further drawdown on its revolving facilities of £40m.

Manchester United also announced last night that club legend Christiano Ronaldo had left with immediate effect, following his controversial interview criticising the Old Trafford club and its manager, Eric Ten Hag.

Its latest announcement follows that of arch rivals Liverpool earlier this month when its owners, the Boston-based Fenway Sports Group, confirmed it was inviting offers from potential bidders for investment or a takeover.

Russ Mould, investment director at Manchester investment platform, AJ Bell, said: “Fans have been wanting the Glazers to sell Manchester United for years and now it looks like their wish could come true.

“Having not won the Premier League since 2013, left its stadium in a shabby state and loaded up on debt, Manchester United has not lived up to its reputation as a winning football club of late.

“Anyone who bought the shares will have suffered the same frustration as a season ticket holder, with the stock offering so much promise but always failing to move up to the top of the league.

“Football clubs, in general, have proved to be terrible investments over the years. Excluding the 11% after-hours jump in the share price on the potential sale announcement, Manchester United’s shares have fallen 30% in value over five years. Many people will find that a surprise given how well its brand is known around the world.

“Should the club find a new owner, the demands on its cash will extend far beyond securing the best players.”