Has the Glazer family had enough of Manchester United? It has practically become an annual ritual, like pancakes on Shrove Wednesday. Every year, without fail, the Glazer family—which owns the English football club—denies wanting to be rid of all or even part of its stake. No, a family flack will explain to reporters, the rumors are untrue: The Glazers have no plans to sell Manchester United.
This year feels different. After Bloomberg broke the news in August that the Glazers were considering selling a minority stake, there was no denial. The stock price spiked sharply. Jim Ratcliffe, the chemicals baron and Britain’s wealthiest man, said he’d be interested. So did Apollo Global Management, the private equity group. Elon Musk tweeted that he was buying the club as well, although of course, that doesn’t really mean much these days.
Shareholders and analysts will be watching Manchester United’s fourth-quarter earnings Sept. 22, to see what shape the club is in—and what kind of price a stake sale can command. Football-wise, it’s been a cold streak; last year, Manchester United had its fifth consecutive season without a trophy, the longest such run in decades. The club’s books are heavy with debt, and expenses have risen; salaries alone will cost Manchester United £252 million ($285 million) in 2022. The stock is down 28% year on year. The stadium needs repairs, which may cost as much as £1.5 billion. Who can blame the Glazers for wanting to sell?