Manchester United’s MANU, +14.66% stock climbed 8.1% before the opening bell on Wednesday after the club’s owners confirmed they are exploring potential financial investment or an outright sale of the storied Premier League club.
“As we seek to continue building on the Club’s history of success, the Board has authorized a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives,” said Executive Co-Chairmen and Directors, Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer, in a statement Tuesday. “We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the Club today and in the future.”
Shares of operator Manchester United Ltd. ended Tuesday’s session up 14.7%.
But the Glazers have come under intense pressure to sell the iconic English football club amid mounting fan frustration over Manchester United’s underperformance. The club, one of the biggest names in world soccer, last won the Premier League in 2013 and has faced fierce criticism over its transfer policy. Last year, the Glazers faced a major fan backlash over their planned involvement in the controversial European Super League.
“As shares stand slightly above the IPO price in 2012 ($14), we commend management for taking action to enhance shareholder value,” wrote Jefferies analyst Randal J. Konik, in a note released on Tuesday.
Konik thinks that Manchester United’s fundamentals justify a premium compared with Premier League rival Chelsea, which was sold to Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly for more than $3.1 billion earlier this year.
“Vs. Chelsea, [Manchester United’s] Old Trafford is a much bigger stadium, MANU has vast global reach over Chelsea, MANU has over 1B followers and Chelsea has only a fraction of that, and finally MANU generates more revenue and EBITDA,” Konik wrote.
Manchester United’s stock has risen 4.9% this year, compared with the S&P 500 Index’s SPX, +1.36% 16% decline.
Ratcliffe’s sporting links are strong. The billionaire, who ranks 27th on the Sunday Times Rich List, already owns the French Ligue 1 soccer club OGC Nice, and the Ineos Grenadiers professional cycling team.
Manchester United is the most successful team in the English top division, which it has won 20 times. A record 13 of those titles have come in the Premier League era, which began in 1992. Founded as Newton Heath in 1878, the club became Manchester United in 1902 and won the first of its 20 league titles six years later.
Separately on Tuesday, the club confirmed that Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo would be leaving the club. “Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect,” Manchester United tweeted.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Ronaldo returned to Manchester United in 2021. But the 37-year-old’s relationship with the club has broken down in recent months, culminating in a controversial interview with Piers Morgan where he slammed Manchester United’s management.