Manchester United fans want the Glazers out of the club. That has been made crystal clear, with protests forcing the cancellation of a marquee game at home to Liverpool at the weekend.
With the effectiveness of protesting now clear, more could follow. This has lit a fuse under United fan determination to force the Glazers to sell.
But could anybody afford to buy them out? A high speculated price has been put on the club.
It could cost £4 billion
The Times reports it could cost buyers £4 billion to buy the club. This is a speculated figure, but one which is explained.
The share price of United is £2.1 billion. It is suggested the Glazers would themselves ask for £3 billion to maximise their profit.
The report claims banks and lenders would insists on a further billion taking the sum to £4 billion, to cover the club’s debts.
There are very few wealthy individuals or consortiums who might be able or willing to pay such a price.
And with there being severe opposition to new monetary streams like a Super League, there is no quick way for an investor to claw back the money.
United need a buyer to purchase the club for love, and the problem is, at these kind of figures, United would probably have to settle for another billionaire mogul, although hopefully one who would not run the club in debt.
As Gary Neville pointed out on Sky, the Glazers simply lack the funds to develop the stadium, training ground, and surrounding areas, let alone the team.
The Times reports that banks have earned 80 pence for every £1 net spent by United in the transfer market.
Too much of the money generated by the club is being wasted on repaying banks, which otherwise could have been spent where it is really needed.
Other options being explored
The difficulty attracting a buyer at £4 billion is one of the reasons the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) is trying to take a pragmatic approach to the Glazer problem.
The group want the Government to take a legislative hammer to the problem, and draw up regulations which would require the Glazers to sell a stake in the club to minimise their control.
Other options being proposed include independent directors being apppointed to the club board, to act in the best interests of fans, not shareholders.
The group also want an opportunity for fans to buy shares, if any are put up for sale, either through choice or legislation.
Consulation with season ticket holders is also being sought on club matters, including any changes to competitions the club is involved in.
It is sensible for the fan group to take this approach, given the obstinate and stubborn way the Glazers have operated since 2005.
Forcing the Glazers out would be a lot easier if there were two or three buyers lined up on the horizon. Or even one.
At present, we wait to see if the protests will flush out those with potential interest, in a similar way to how the Arsenal fan protest led Spotify owner Daniel Ek to claim an interest in the Gunners, even though he has been met with tough opposition from the Kroenke’s so far.
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