Will the glaziers sell, how much would Man Utd cost and is he a buyer?
It has been a tumultuous 10-day period for football fans across Europe after the failed Super League launch, a situation which has highlighted the issue of club ownership. Despite close to finishing as Manchester City’s runner-up in the Premier League and on the verge of reaching another European final, Manchester United fans have long struggled with the billionaire American Glazer family who bought the club in 2005. But what to do next. for those who want to force a coup, and do the numbers even add up? How much would it cost to buy Manchester United? Forbes currently values United at just over £ 3 billion, behind Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and just ahead of Liverpool and Manchester City. That’s about a billion more than the club’s shares are worth and almost four times the valuation of £ 790million when they were bought by the Glazers – using bank loans totaling nearly £ 600million sterling – in 2005. United is also still over £ 450million in debt, meaning their purchase would likely cost a potential owner a lot more than £ 3 billion. Who could afford to buy the club? Even a billionaire would struggle outright – certainly without the kind of debt buyout used by the Glazers that many United fans oppose to this day. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man with a net worth of around £ 12bn, has been a lifelong United supporter and has previously been linked with a Chelsea takeover. However, he bought Nice instead, along with his brother Robert ruling out buying a Premier League club because of the cost. That would leave the multi-billion dollar American and foreign businessmen or Arab royalty. A fan buyout – even a large stake in the club – would require the willingness of millions and millions of supporters to invest. Are there buyers? Unlike Arsenal, which were the subject of a very public takeover bid by Swedish billionaire Daniel Ek and an ‘Invincibles’ team led by Thierry Henry, there has been no known move to buy United. since the collapse of the Super League. The last talk about the takeover dates back almost two years, when Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was linked with a £ 4 billion offer. But Saudi interest in football has more recently – and controversially – been focused on Newcastle United, which is said to be more than 10 times cheaper to buy. United were the subject of a possible £ 1.5bn takeover in 2010 by the city’s group of financiers, lawyers and wealthy supporters of the ‘Red Knights’, but it didn’t ‘resulted in nothing. Do glaziers want to sell? They may not have issued a definitive statement like the Kroenkes did to Arsenal, but there is no indication that the Glazers would consider a takeover bid, despite the new wave of protests from supporters against them. They are said to believe they can more than double United’s current value to £ 7 billion, even after the collapse of the Super League, which guarantees the income. United has also been a worthwhile investment for them, with the family paying themselves dividends worth tens of millions of pounds in recent years. Plus, they still own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who this year won their second Super Bowl under the Glazers since their buyout in 1995, showing the family is into the sport for the long haul.