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Football

Manchester United sale: Who could buy the Premier League club?

Chris Byfield

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Manchester United sale: Who could buy the Premier League club?

Manchester United's American owners the Glazers family last night announced they are considering selling the club.

Their 17 years in charge have been marked by an unprecedented footballing decline and fan protests.

A club statement said the board would “consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the company".

Furthermore, the process would "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" to enhance "the long-term success of the club's men's, women's and academy teams, and bringing benefits to fans and other stakeholders".

The Glazers bought full control of Man Utd for £790million ($1.34billion) in 2005. It was a deal that spurred mass controversy, having been predominantly financed through loans secured against the club's assets.

Reports claim that the club would sell for anywhere between £5billion and £9billion. Here are five parties that could look to buy Man Utd.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe

In August one of Britain's richest men, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a boyhood United fan, expressed an interest in buying the club.

The billionaire already owns cycling team Ineos Grenadiers, Ligue 1 club Nice and has shares in the Mercedes Formula 1 outfit.

After meeting with the Glazers, however, Sir Jim claimed the family were not interested in a sale.

In October he said: "I met Joel and Avram, and they are the nicest people.

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"They are proper gentlemen, and they don't want to sell it. It is owned by the six children of the father and they don't want to sell."

While Sir Jim may still be interested in buying his boyhood club, he has in the past suggested that English football's elite names are overvalued.

Michael Knighton

Michael Knighton bid a then-record £20million to buy Man Utd in 1989, only for the deal to fall apart after key investors withdrew.

Knighton then took up a seat on the club’s board. In August, however, he claimed he would be ready to return with a fresh bid for the club but would need major financial backing.

He told Man Utd The Religion: "We are a club in crisis and we all know the reason why. We have an inept and frankly useless ownership who know little about this game of football.

“Everyone knows that we need new ownership of this football club and that is my aim and those are my objectives. I am making good progress, continuing to talk to the people, I have got some good pledges and good finance."

New York investors

Man Utd may be swapping one American owner for another. In August Stretty News claimed a New York-based investment fund was looking to put together a bid for the club.

The Glazers bought Man Utd in 2005 (Alamy)
The Glazers bought Man Utd in 2005 (Alamy)

The publication suggested discussions have been held and that the situation was “very much real”.

The Premier League side has been listed on the New York stock exchange for a decade and a series of American venture capitalists will likely register an interest in the club.

Dubai Investors

According to Arabian Business investors in Dubai are likely to be among those interested in buying Man Utd.

The publication cited September reports claiming that Dubai’s sovereign wealth fund could be a potential bidder for Man Utd if the club became available.

While more Middle Eastern investment in the Premier League would unsettle some fans, such a move would also create symmetry in Manchester, with the Red Devils’ local rivals Manchester City being owned by an Abu Dhabi investment group.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk knows a thing or two about buying multi-billion pound businesses that are haemorrhaging money.

The new Twitter owner, who is also the CEO of Tesla, joked and then shut down rumours that he could buy the Premier League club earlier this year.

He tweeted, "I'm buying Manchester United ur welcome" only to later clarify, "This is a long-running joke on Twitter. I’m not buying any sports teams."

Of course, Musk also publicly insisted he no longer had an interest in buying Twitter… before buying Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Football, Manchester United, Premier League

Chris Byfield
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