Home » Glazers could pull the plug on Manchester United sale

Glazers could pull the plug on Manchester United sale

by David O'Neill

The sale of Manchester United Football Club could be off, with bidders Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe nowhere near the Glazers’ valuation.

A report from The Sun claims that “all possible moves are on the table including scrapping the entire process.”

While the Glazer family looking for £6bn for the club, the bids they have received are in the region of £4.5bn.

The report theorises that the Glazers may instead work with US hedge funds to set up a new company with the sole intention of pushing Man United’s merchandising and digital commercial operations.
Such a move could enable an increase in profits from the club’s digital sales, video gaming, and merchandise licensing.

This news comes just as face-to-face meetings having been scheduled between representatives of the Glazer family and those of interested parties.

Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe will be given access to United’s most up-to-date books as they consider their bidding positions during “stage two” of the process.

The Raine Group, who are handling the sale on behalf of the Glazer family, are still holding out for a price which is roughly double the club’s current £3bn valuation on the stock market.

Sheikh Jassim’s bid for 100% of United’s shares is in the region of £4.5bn, while Ratcliffe is thought to have bid £4.3bn for the 69% of the club under Glazer ownership.

Neither bid comes close to the Glazers’ fanciful price tag and, in that context, threatening to pull the plug on a sale seems like a fairly obvious negotiating tactic.

As football-business dealmaker Laurie Pinto recently told The Athletic, “What is this stage two for?

“I’ll tell you and it’s very simple: Raine is asking the two bidders to go a bit higher, while desperately trying to find a third (bidder) to create some more competitive tension in the auction.

“At the moment, there is none. You’ve got two bidders who aren’t that far apart on valuation and neither has hit the Glazers’ number, and they don’t look like doing so.”

It is also worth pointing out that the cumulative price of United’s share price is where it is because of the possibility of a sale.

The New York Stock Exchange may have Manchester United trading at $21.93 right now, but over the course of the year prior to the Glazers announcing they would consider selling the club, the shares were trading in the range of between $11 and $15.

Christian Nourry, managing partner at football consultancy Retexo Intelligence, postulates that this entire ‘stage two’ of the process could “provide time for a bigger majority bid from someone else and/or unnerve the existing bidders to up their offers.”

It is likely that any talk of scrapping a deal altogether would also be an attempt to unnerve existing bidders.

The Glazers are surely in too deep at this point and, while they have historically shown little to no interest in the club’s fans, staying on at this point would surely make their position at Manchester United untenable.

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