Shares of the publicly traded Manchester United more than doubled over the past three months, after the Glazer family announced it would seek “strategic alternatives” for the 20-time English champions. On Monday, the stock slumped 13% to close at $22.99—its lowest finish in two weeks.
United shares sold off as fears emerged the Glazers would not sell the team. Rumors were fanned by reports over the weekend that U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management was willing to offer the Glazers investment into the club, which would help with plans to renovate Old Trafford and other capital investment while allowing the Glazers to keep control.
Qatari investor Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani and INEOS founder Jim Ratcliffe confirmed bids for the club on Friday, the soft deadline set by Raine Group, which was hired to lead the process after it sold Chelsea last year for $3.16 billion. Several other bids had already been submitted, according to people with direct knowledge of the deal, who were granted anonymity because the details are private.
The two public bidders appealed in different ways to the United faithful. Al Thani’s statement highlighted his “debt-free” bid for the club in a nod to United fans frustrated by the $1+ billion in debt the Glazers put on the team’s balance sheet shortly after its purchase. Ratcliffe, who is the richest person in the UK at $15.3 billion per Forbes, is counting on his local ties as an alternative to the Qataris.
The Glazer family took control of United in 2005 through a leveraged buyout for £790 million (about $1.5 billion at the time). In 2012, it listed shares on the New York Stock Exchange. The 13% drop is the third-worst since that listing. The only worse one-day performances were 14% drops in March 2020 when COVID-19 shut down the sports world, then again in October 2021 after Edward and Kevin Glazer put 9.5 million shares—worth roughly $166 million—up for sale.
Manchester United’s enterprise value is $4.5 billion after the stock decline. Last month, Sportico valued Manchester United at $5.95 billion in our Premier League team valuations. The record sale price for a sports franchise was the $4.65 billion Rob Walton paid for the Denver Broncos last year.
On Monday, United announced plans to increase season ticket prices by 5% next season. It is the first increase in 11 years. The club cited the higher costs of staging a match—up 40% in five years and 11% in the last 12 months.
The team is currently third in the Premier League, behind Arsenal and Manchester City.