It’s the news that Manchester United fans have been longing for: the Glazers have reportedly put the club up for sale.
Just weeks after bitter rivals Liverpool were put on the market by the Fenway Sports Group, it’s believed that the Glazer family are willing to listen to offers for the Old Trafford outfit.
The Glazers are detested by a large number of United fans over accusations of asset stripping, underspending and a raft of poor managerial choices, which have seen the club slump from the most successful in the land to, at best, contending for a Champions League berth.
The recent fallout from the Cristiano Ronaldo interviews, in which he lambasted the Glazers for their running of the club before cancelling his contract, is thought to have been the last straw.
A bid in the region of £5 billion is likely to be enough to seal the deal, although given the current market conditions that might be a tad optimistic. It’s worth noting too that Chelsea sold for £2.5 billion as recently as May, while the world record for a sporting takeover is the £3.9 billion paid for NFL side Denver Broncos in August.
One thing that is for sure is that there will be no shortage of interested parties looking to take a major shareholding in one of the most famous sports teams on the planet.
Will Beckham Buy Man Utd?
Whether he has the necessary capital to finance a takeover remains to be seen, but David Beckham has announced he is ‘open to talks’ over a potential buyout of the Glazers.
Beckham owns a controlling stake in MLS outfit Inter Miami, although it’s not thought he has the finances in place to fund the mammoth cost of the United deal.
Instead, he’s likely to be part financier, part figurehead for a bid launched with a consortium of one or more capital partners.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is another potential contender. He’s the billionaire owner of the Ineos cycling team, and was thought to have been a major player in the race to take over Chelsea before Todd Boehly was chosen as the club’s approved buyer.
Bizarrely, despite having a season ticket at Stamford Bridge, Ratcliffe claims to be a Manchester United fan, and so an ownership bid would have some emotional resonance. However, he has claimed that Premier League clubs are ‘overvalued’, and will instead invest more in Nice, the French club he has a controlling stake in.
The Red Knights consortium tried to buy United back in 2010. Led by the club’s former director, Jim O’Neill, the group has shown some interest in recent times – however, when quizzed O’Neill said ‘I don’t think that’s realistic’ in reference to the Glazers’ valuation of the Manchester outfit.
The Ricketts Family Investment Group wanted Chelsea but missed out in the bidding war. They have plenty of capital, already own the Chicago Cubs and are thought to have partnered with the Rock Entertainment Group, one of the wealthiest capital funds in North America.
There will, inevitably, be plenty of interest from the Middle East, with suitors in the UAE keeping a keen eye on developments.