By Carl Markham, PA
Manchester United could be sold after the Glazer family announced they were “exploring strategic alternatives” for the club.
The unpopular American owners – who have faced significant fan opposition during their tenure – appear to be prepared to relinquish control after 17 years in charge.
In a statement the club said the board of directors were starting a process “designed to enhance the club’s future growth” with the intention of maximising opportunities on and off the pitch.
Club statement on a process to explore strategic options for Manchester United.#MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 22, 2022
“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,” said the statement.
“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 Glazers took over at United with a £790 million leveraged buy-out in 2005 but throughout their tenure have faced significant opposition from supporters, which has only grown in recent years at a club that have not won the Premier League since 2013.
If they decide not to sell they could still look for an investment partner to raise capital in order to fund a much-needed redevelopment of Old Trafford.
A statement from executive co-chairmen and directors Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer said: “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, which facilitated the sale of Chelsea over the summer, is acting as United’s exclusive financial adviser, with Rothschild and Co performing the same role to the Glazer family shareholders.
While the Glazers appear willing to consider a sale having faced many years of fan protests – which have escalated in the last couple of years, with the club’s involvement in the failed European Super League provoking particular anger – United stress there are no guarantees.
“There can be no assurance that the review being undertaken will result in any transaction involving the company,” added the statement.
“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.”
Owners of arch-rivals Liverpool, Fenway Sports Group – also based in the United States – are currently exploring similar options for the whole or partial sale of a club bought in 2010 for £300m but now worth at least 10 times that.