The deal Man United fans (and Gary Neville) don’t want, a Glazers partial sale

United fans express their feelings (source: Twitter)

American private equity giant Carlyle Group is the latest name touted as a potential investor into Manchester United Football Club.

The Sunday Times reported that Carlyle, which has $376 billion of assets under management, is looking to take a stake in the Old Trafford club, rather than a full blown takeover.

Such a deal would allow the Glazer family to retain a share in United alongside a large US investor.

As suggested by when the race for United was triggered, a key voice in the PR battle would be Manchester businessman and former player Gary Neville who has accused the Glazers of orchestrating the rumours and distorting the process.

The part owner of League Two club Salford City took to Twitter over the weekend to attack the idea of such a deal, adding: “No thank you! This doesn’t work for United! The Glazer PR machine keeps leaking this type of minority partnership out there bi-weekly whist stressing it’s a confidential process!”

United were put on the block on November 23, last year, when 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”.

So far two bids to buy United have been tabled. One, from Sir Jim Ratcliffe, boyhood Manchester United fan, has confirmed his chemical firm, INEOS, had formally lodged interest with the Glazers. INEOS already owns French Ligue One side OGC Nice, Swiss Super League side FC Lausanne-Sport and works with partner club Racing Club Abidjan of Ivory Coast Ligue One.

Formal interest has also been tabled by Qatar-based Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani.

But advisers Raine Group who are managing the process are understood to be listening to interest from Elliott Advisors, a hedge fund which previously owned AC Milan, Ares Management Corporation and now Carlyle.

Supporters are opposed to the current owners after their 2005 highly leveraged £790m takeover loaded the club with debt, which stood at £514.9m at the end of the June 30, 2022 financial year.

The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) has demanded that any new bidder eradicate United’s debt burden and operate a governance structure more akin to a UK public company, but also offer fans the opportunity to invest.

At recent games fans have unfurled banners demanding “Full Sale Only”.

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