Manchester United could become the latest English Premier League team with new owners after announcing it would “explore strategic alternatives for the club”.
The Glazer family has been the majority owner of Manchester United since 2005, when Malcolm Glazer took over the team after being a minority owner. The Glazers also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“As part of this process, the board will consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment in the club, a sale or other transactions involving the company,” the team said in a statement. This includes an assessment of various initiatives to strengthen the club, including the redevelopment of the stadium and infrastructure, and the expansion of the club’s commercial activities on a global scale, each in the context of increasing the long-term success of the gentlemen club, women’s and men’s leagues, academy teams, and benefit fans and other stakeholders.”
The family’s ownership of Manchester United has been a controversial subject among Red Devils supporters. The takeover bid was heavily financed through loans backed by the team’s assets. The high interest rates on the loans have led to significant annual debt payments after the club had been debt free for decades. The Glazers even offered team stock on the New York Stock Exchange as a refinancing effort.
Malcolm Glazer passed away in 2014 and his sons Avram and Joel Glazer are currently the co-chairmen of the team.
“Manchester United’s strength rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers,” the Glazer brothers said in a statement. “As we try to build on the club’s history of success, the board has authorized a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives. We will evaluate all options to ensure we serve our fans in the best possible way and that Manchester United make the significant maximizing 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.”
Manchester United considers itself the most famous club in the world and has a significant commercial presence around the world. If the team is sold, the purchase price will likely be much higher than the $3.2 billion Todd Boehly paid for Chelsea from Roman Abramovich earlier this year after the Russian oligarch was forced to sell the team through sanctions imposed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The news that the team could be sold came hours after United announced it had agreed to terminate star striker Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract. The 37-year-old Portugal captain has been at odds with the club since returning to United ahead of the 2021/22 season and had been given limited playing time this season.
United’s announcement also comes just weeks after Fenway Sports Group confirmed it was exploring a possible sale of Liverpool. FSG bought Liverpool in 2010 and would make an incredible return on its $350 million investment if it sold the team.