Is there potential for a change of ownership at Manchester United?
In 2005, Manchester United Football Club was bought by the American Glazer family for £790 million. Before this period, Manchester United had built up a reputation for being the biggest football club in the world, with major domestic success along with success in European competitions. However, in recent years under the ownership of the Glazers, the club has struggled on and off the pitch. On the pitch, since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club, Manchester United have not competed at the top of the Premier League with the likes of their local rivals Manchester City, who have won 6 Premier League titles since Manchester United won their last. The problems off the pitch are even more significant.
When the Glazers took over the club had no debt at all, but this is not the case anymore as the club has racked up debts worth just under £1 billion as of March 2023. Along with the financial problems, the famous Old Trafford stadium needs a rather large investment to revitalise the stadium along with fixing structural issues. It is estimated that rebuilding the stadium from the ground up could cost up to $2 billion, but other options would be cheaper, but still a noteworthy amount of capital.
With all the failings going on at the club, there have been rumours about the Glazer family selling the club or part of it in recent years. Investors from Qatar have shown interest in buying the club, but it seems likely that Ineos founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe is going to take over 25% of the club.
The offer equates to around £1.3 billion of Manchester United’s A and B shares which would see the British businessmen take ownership of about 25% of the club. There are rumours that the parties involved would like to get the deal done by the 23rd of November to not interrupt the US Thanksgiving holiday. If the deal was to go through, the change of ownership will be the most significant since the Glazer family sold 10% of their holding in 2012.
A change of ownership is high on the agenda of many Manchester United fans with many of the fans along with pundits such as Gary Neville blaming their form on the pitch down to the turbulence that has surrounded the club in the last year when the Glazers said they would consider selling part of or all the club. The success of the change of ownership at Newcastle United shows that if done properly, a new direction for a football club can change their fortunes on the pitch.