The Glazer family may consider selling a portion of their Manchester United stake, people familiar with the matter have said, as pressure mounts on their ownership of the historic English soccer club.
The owners have had some preliminary discussions about bringing in a new investor, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential. The American Glazer family is not yet ready to give up control of Manchester United, which could be valued at around 5 billion pounds, the people said.
Discussions are ongoing and there is no certainty that the Glazers will decide to sell a stake in the club, according to the people. A representative for Manchester United and the Glazer family declined to comment. Manchester United shares rose as much as 7.6% in early trading Wednesday in New York.
Manchester United is one of the best known and most successful clubs in world football. He has won a record 13 English Premier League titles and has always been able to attract the game’s biggest stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The club is likely to attract a host of big-name investors, similar to EPL outfit Chelsea FC, which was recently sold to US billionaire Todd Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital in a $4.25 billion deal. Such is Manchester United’s global reach that Tesla chief executive Elon Musk tweeted on Wednesday that he would buy the club, before clarifying that he was joking.
The late Malcolm Glazer bought the club in a 2005 leveraged buyout that saddled him with massive debt and the family has faced distrust from hardcore fans ever since. While this was mitigated in the early years of their ownership as the team continued to win trophies under Sir Alex Ferguson, resentment has grown steadily after the legendary manager’s retirement in 2013. Since then the club has passed by big-money coaches and players with only a handful of trophies to show for it.
To make matters worse, their dominance of English football has shifted to cross-town rivals Manchester City FC, who have won multiple honors since being acquired by Abu Dhabi investors in 2008.
The apparent lack of investment in Manchester United’s infrastructure, including its Carrington training ground and famed Old Trafford stadium, and frustration over poor recruitment strategy have compounded the ill will towards the Glazers.
Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer are co-executive chairmen and directors of Manchester United, while family members Kevin Glazer, Bryan Glazer, Darcie Glazer Kassewitz and Edward Glazer sit on the board, according to the club’s website.
Fan tensions have boiled over in recent weeks, with Manchester United losing the first two games of the new EPL season, including a 4-0 thrashing of Brentford FC. In the opening home match of the new campaign, a 2-1 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion FC, a large group of devotees walked into the stadium with banners reading: “Fight Greed. Fight for United. Fight Glazers ” and “We want our club back,” the Telegraph newspaper reported.
Fans plan to stage further protests at the team’s next home game against arch-rivals Liverpool FC on August 22. Liverpool won the corresponding match 5-0 last season and this time they are the bookmakers’ favourite.