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After Ronaldo, the investor goes - ManUnited is still facing the rain of money

The traditional British club Manchester United is facing a possible sale.

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After Ronaldo, the investor goes - ManUnited is still facing the rain of money

The traditional British club Manchester United is facing a possible sale. The ownership of the US billionaire family Glazer, which is unloved by ManUnited fans, could come to an end 18 years after they got started.

On Tuesday, the Glazers said they were reviewing strategic alternatives for the club, specifically naming the sale. On the same day, the football club and Portuguese star player Cristiano Ronaldo had split.

Ronaldo had caused a stir a few days earlier with a television interview in which he accused the Glazers of not being interested in the club and its affairs. He accused the management that marketing was more important to him than football.

"The Board will examine all strategic alternatives, including new investments in the club, a sale or any other transaction affecting the company," Manchester United said.

With regard to the owners of the clubs in the English Premier League, there is still a lot going on. It was only at the beginning of November that another flagship club indicated a change of ownership: the Boston-based Fenway Sports Group (FSG) said at the time that it was getting advice from investment banks on the sale of Manchester United’s arch-rival FC Liverpool.

Traditional clubs with well-known names have been attracting numerous interested parties for years. In view of the international reputation and marketability, this is particularly true for the English clubs.

"It is to be expected that numerous interested parties will try to get a piece of the pie, whether through a partnership, a complete or partial sale. But that will come at a hefty price," said Susannah Streeter, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdowne.

Manchester United's New York-traded shares would imply a valuation of around $2.5 billion, but the estimated value is significantly higher. Streeter put it at more than $4.5 billion given the expected interest.

In 2005, the Glazers became the majority owner of the club. The purchase price of 750 million pounds (866 million euros) was mainly financed by debt. For years, ManUnited fans have accused the owners of viewing the club exclusively as a financial investment and profiting from dividends. Liabilities to date stand at around £500m.

Some of the shares have been listed on the NYSE in New York since 2012. However, voting rights and the right to dividends are largely reserved for the Glazers. After the sales plans became known, the paper jumped more than 15 percent on Tuesday.

The owners got into further trouble with the fans by supporting the European Super League 2021. The attempt by a handful of major European clubs to secede from the national leagues failed hours after it became known. Since then, "Glazers Out" or "Love United, hate Glazers" can be read regularly on banners in the Manchester fan block at games.

Despite the big name, which is one of the best known in the international football world, the club has missed out on the really big sporting trophies in recent years. The last Premier League win was in 2013, then under legendary manager Alex Ferguson. Man United is currently fifth in the table. Internationally, the players won the Europa League and the EFL Cup in 2017.

This should hardly dampen the interest of potential owners. Some experts see the Premier League owners' willingness to sell as an indication that business with the round leather may have peaked. There is already talk of peak football. After years of exponential growth, it is becoming increasingly difficult to develop new sources of income and thus fresh growth.

But the enormous interest in Chelsea in the spring does not indicate a lull. The club had to be sold after sanctions against the then owner Roman Abramovich in connection with the Ukraine war. More than 200 parties showed interest at the time. Despite the bailout, Chelsea ended up going to a consortium led by US businessman Todd Boehly for a record price of £4.25 billion.

"I believe that the Premier League, as the top soccer platform in Europe, can further increase its foreign marketing," agrees Sven Schmidt, Managing Director of, who, as the largest sponsor of the 2nd Bundesliga, knows the soccer business well. Nevertheless, he can understand why individual owners are now selling. Because the sums that could be achieved for the clubs in particular are quite attractive.

On the other hand, more and more players would see football clubs as a trophy and pump money into the teams regardless of the losses. Healthy competition and stable earnings are not possible in this way. “There are clubs like Newcastle that are now effectively owned by an investor group close to the Saudi royal family. They are also willing to accept negative cash flows,” explained Schmidt.

And that's not just the case in the English Premier League. "On the global stage there are clubs like Paris St. Germain with a Qatari owner, where profits are de facto irrelevant." Here it is more about political motives.

"For the owner of Liverpool, the American Fenway Sports Group, which is used to profitable American professional leagues, it is probably irritating when they can't actually get any positive cash flow out of their Premier League club because of the unequal competition, but at best long-term value can create by increasing the value of the team,” says Schmidt. A sale at this point in time seems likely to be cheap.

The Glazers have hired US investment boutique Raine Group to review options for the club. The bankers also engineered the Chelsea sale. In view of the great international interest in this deal, experts again see bidders from the United States and the Arab world ahead.

Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, founder and CEO of chemical company Ineos, stressed in August that he would be interested if the club went up for sale. Ratcliffe, one of the richest Britons, has been a lifelong Manchester fan.

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