The Glazer family, who own Manchester United, have announced they are open to selling the club.
United issued a statement on Tuesday to reveal they are « exploring strategic alternatives, » including new investment or a full sale. The Glazers completed their takeover in 2005, but have faced fierce opposition to their ownership from supporters, particularly for saddling the club with huge amounts of debt following their leveraged buyout.
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The statement released Tuesday read: « Manchester United announces today that the board is commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club.
« The process is designed to enhance the club’s future growth, with the ultimate goal of positioning the club to capitalize on opportunities both on the pitch and commercially.
« As part of this process, the board will consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the company.
« This will include an assessment of several initiatives to strengthen the club, including stadium and infrastructure redevelopment, and expansion of the club’s commercial operations on a global scale, each in the context of enhancing the long-term success of the club’s men’s, women’s and academy teams, and bringing benefits to fans and other stakeholders. »
The news comes on the same day that Manchester United announced that Cristiano Ronaldo would leave the club after a « mutual agreement » was reached by the two parties. Ronaldo’s departure comes on the heels of last week’s interview with Piers Morgan in which he blasted the club and its new manager, Erik ten Hag, for disrespecting him.
If United were to be sold outright, the club would be expected to fetch a price far in excess of the £2.5 billion paid in May for Chelsea by a consortium fronted by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly.
British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, who also bid for Chelsea, has said he would be interested in buying United, but insisted in October that the Glazers did not want to sell.
The Raine Group have been named as United’s exclusive financial adviser after handling the sale of Chelsea earlier this year.
Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer said as part of the statement issued on Tuesday: « The strength of Manchester United rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers.
« As we seek to continue building on the club’s history of success, the board has authorized a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives.
« We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future.
« Throughout this process we will remain fully focused on serving the best interests of our fans, shareholders, and various stakeholders. »
While there is no guarantee the Glazers will cede complete control of United, the news will provide hope to the team’s supporters who have long-campaigned to drive out the American family, which also owns the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The late tycoon Malcolm Glazer bought United in 2005 for £790 million (about $1.4 billion at the time) amid a backlash from fans.
Unrest has continued in the following years and in recent times seen increasingly angry protests. A game against Liverpool had to be postponed last year following demonstrations at Old Trafford.
United fans have been critical of the leveraged nature of the Glazers’ buyout that loaded debt onto the club, as well as a perceived lack of investment and the dividends taken out by the owners.
The club has endured a sustained period of decline since the retirement of Alex Ferguson in 2013 — failing to win a league title since then — and has had to watch as fierce rivals Manchester City and Liverpool have dominated the English game.
United said among its plans for growth was the potential redevelopment of its Old Trafford stadium — something supporters have long called for.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.