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Opinion: Will The Glazers Now Sell Manchester United?



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Manchester United for sale?
Manchester United for sale?
Are the Glazers now preparing to sell Manchester United?

The question “will the Glazers sell Manchester United?” has been doing the rounds since they took over the club in 2005. There have been some attempts to make a bid to by the club from its current owners without much success. So now that patriarch Malcolm Glazer has died, will they sell the club?

Will The Red Knights Make Another Offer For Manchester United?

In 2010, economist Jim O’Neill led the Red Knights business group in the last real attempt to take over the club. At that time, the asking price was £1.5bn which was eventually deemed too high. As things stand, it is possible that O`Neill could make another attempt, along with the aptly named `Red Knights` at making a successful takeover bid.

Malcolm Glazer took over the club in 2005 using a controversial, but legal, leveraging method to buy the club, i.e. by borrowing the money. By using this method, it effectively meant that the club was paying to service the debt. Technically, the debt belonged to a holding company and not actually Manchester United per se.

However, Glazer suffered a number of strokes over the intervening years and passed control of the club to his sons and other family members. Avram and Joel are probably the most visible members of the family at the club and have actually been to watch matches and attend to other business on a regular basis, unlike their father, who amazingly, has never set foot inside Old Trafford.

Of course, the Glazers have other business interests to sort out, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL team, a property company and the Glazer Family Foundation. In all, there are six Glazer children with an equal share of the club and that has led to speculation that some will want to cash in their share.

The problem for the Glazers is that this has coincided with the clubs worst ever showing in the Premier League, finishing a distant 7th, thereby for the first time in Premier League history missing out on any European football next season. This will cost the club at least £26m in lost revenue. The value of the club as a whole has also fallen because of their malaise which is why there is speculation in the media around whether they will sell or not. Furthermore, there will need to be heavy investment in the squad this year; probably to the tune of around £200m, which will further deplete the coffers.

Failing O`Neill`s `Red Knights` making a bid, who else would want to lump out up to £1.5bn for the club whilst its future on the pitch is in doubt? Manchester United fans will be hoping that there is some billionaire out there who will take over the club and restore it to its rightful place at the forefront of football, but is that really going to happen?  For all his faults in his transfer dealings, Ed Woodward is acknowledged as a `whizz kid` in commercial circles and he has almost single-handedly brought in some of the most lucrative sponsorship deals in sporting history to the club, but how long they will stick with them if the team are not successful on the pitch is debateable.

Recently the club was valued at £2bn taking into account the flotation on the NYSE and their commercial revenue streams, but that figure will surely have dropped significantly with their demise this season, so will the Glazers now sell Manchester United? Personally, I cannot see them doing anything until the dust has settled and their father has been interred. There will undoubtedly be discussions amongst the surviving family owners of the club about how to proceed. How that will evolve is impossible to predict.

The decision they have to make is should they sell up now whilst the club still has a reasonable value; take the profit and leave, or should they ride it out and hope that the new manager and expected new players reinstate the club at the top of the Premier League? That is their conundrum to solve and we are all waiting to see which way they jump.