Ian Parker, PA
Manchester United could be on course for new owners with the Glazer family ready to consider a partial or full takeover of the Old Trafford club.
It appears to be the beginning of the end for the unpopular 17-year reign of the Americans, who bought United in a debt-funded takeover in 2005 and have since taken millions of pounds out of the club.
Here's what comes next and what it could all mean for United...
What have the Glazers said?
Club statement on a process to explore strategic options for Manchester United.#MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 22, 2022
A statement from United said the board “will consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the company”. Executive co-chairmen Avram and Joel Glazer added that they are looking to “maximise the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future”, but it appears they are ready to cash in.
What happens now?
The Raine Group, who whittled down more than 250 expressions of interest in Chelsea to a handful of serious bids before Todd Boehly’s takeover earlier this year, have been charged with handling the process, which is expected to bring in a large number of interested parties.
Could a sale be wrapped up as promptly as Chelsea’s?
It’s unlikely. The Chelsea sale moved quickly due to the unique circumstances left by the sanctions placed on former owner Roman Abramovich, whereas this could be a much longer process with no timetable set out.
Why are the Glazers be looking to sell now?
The Glazers have followed Liverpool owners the Fenway Sports Group in making it known their club is for sale, meaning England’s two most successful teams on the pitch, and their most marketable assets off it, are both on the market.
It comes at a time when the failure of both the European Super League and Project Big Picture thwarted attempts by the so-called big clubs to take greater control over football.
And with Newcastle forcing their way into the competition for the limited number of Champions League places after their Saudi-backed takeover, plus the price paid by Boehly for Chelsea, both the Glazers and FSG appear to think now is the time to cash in.
Why are the Glazers so unpopular with the club’s fans?
They arrived in Manchester in 2005, with the terms of their leveraged deal landing the club in debt and costing millions in interest payments and dividends at a time when success on the pitch has dried up.
So should United fans be excited?
News of their likely exit has been greeted with much excitement, but it remains to be seen who might replace the Glazers, and whether they will be any better for the club. United fans can certainly hope for owners more interested in delivering trophies before profits, but as supporters’ trust chief executive Duncan Drasdo warned, they could yet “be stepping out of the frying pan and into the fire”.
How much might United sell for?
After Boehly and his group paid £2.5billion for Chelsea earlier this year, there has been a rapid recalculation of what the Premier League’s top clubs might be worth. Football finance expert Kieran Maguire said that, based on a comparison with Chelsea’s revenues, profitability and assets, United would be worth around £4-4.5bn, with a reasonable expectation that a possible bidding war would push the price up to £5bn.
What would the prospective new owners have to deal with?
Any party interested will surely know that there would be a bill of hundreds of millions needed for overdue investment at Old Trafford and the Carrington training complex, not to mention the spending still needed in the transfer market to catch up with the Premier League’s leading sides.