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Manchester United Owners Consider Sale of Storied Club


Manchester United, probably the most prized sports franchises on the planet, could also be up on the market after its American owners, the Glazer family, said that they had hired advisers to search out outside investors or sell the team.

Shares of the fabled soccer club, which plays within the English Premier League, the preferred soccer league on this planet, have jumped nearly 30 percent on the Recent York Stock Exchange over the past two trading sessions. The club’s market value reached nearly $2.8 billion after the rally, the DealBook newsletter reports.

The club’s board will “consider all strategic alternatives, including recent investment into the club, a sale or other transactions,” it said in a press release, adding that the review may lead to no motion being taken.

Forbes has valued Manchester United, which has an avid global fan base and wealthy history, at closer to twice that, but determining a soccer club’s value may be tricky. A bunch led by the private equity firm Clearlake Capital paid a record freed from as much as $5.1 billion in May for Chelsea F.C., Manchester’s Premier League rival, but Chelsea doesn’t compare to Manchester United when it comes to global reach, popularity and brand power.

Owning Manchester United is just not without its challenges. It parted ways with its star player Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday, and fans have been clamoring for a change in ownership for years, because the club has not won a league title since 2013.

Deal-making is heating up within the Premier League. After Clearlake acquired Chelsea from the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, Liverpool also found itself on the block. The club’s American owners, Fenway Sports Group, which also owns the Boston Red Sox, put it up on the market this month.

Who would bid for Manchester United? The private equity group Apollo and Britain’s richest man, Jim Ratcliffe, emerged as possible suitors in August when rumors began circulating that the Glazers, who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, were searching for an exit.

A spokesman for Mr. Ratcliffe, the billionaire founding father of the chemicals giant Ineos, told DealBook on the time that he “can be fascinated about buying the club if it was on the market.” When reached on Wednesday morning, he had no further comment. Apollo didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

Manchester United’s board has hired the Raine Group and Latham & Watkins to advise in any deal; the Glazers have also brought on Rothschild & Company to help.

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