Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 31st July 2014
Manchester United’s American owners are selling eight million shares in the club, equivalent to 5% of the business, worth a reported $150m (£88.7m).
The much criticised Glazer family, who launched a successful takeover of the Premier League club through a leveraged buyout in 2005, have listed the shares on the New York Stock Exchange which, last night, were trading at £11.42 apiece.
The news comes just weeks after Malcolm Glazer – the man behind the takeover in 2005 – died, leaving his six children in control of the club with co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer the most public-facing of the siblings.
The Glazers previously sold 10% of their holding via a stock listing in 2012 and despite now listing another 5% of the club, it is believed the family will resume full control of the business which is valued at $2.8bn (£1.85bn) by Forbes – third behind Real Madrid and Barcelona in the list of the world’s most valued football (soccer) clubs.
This club valuation has sky-rocketed in recent years; the Glazers bought United for £790 million ($1.34bn) in 2005 but it's current value has been enhanced largely by a multitude of new sponsorship deals and intense commercial activity across Asia and the USA in particular.
The Glazers have never been popular with hardcore fans of Manchester United; a club that was debt-free before the 2005 takeover which was financed through £374m of bank loans and £275m in hedge funds. Supporters regularly protested against the buyout and burned an effigy of Malcolm Glazer outside the team’s Old Trafford stadium. A large number of fans became so disenfranchised by the takeover that they formed their own club, FC United.
Football finance expert and life-long Manchester United supporter Andy Green believes the latest share listing is ‘glazernomics’ – an unfavourable term which refers to the family bringing in record revenues yet with reduced investment into the team and club.
"Glazer family cashing in another $150m of shares I see. Proceeds to club zero - proceeds to Glazers $150m #glazernomics," he tweeted.
"They're selling 5% of the shares which is equivalent to approximately 0% of the votes. As soon as the Glazers floated the club on the NYSE they had the ability to sell shares and not give up any control. No shock doing it. Free money."