The owners of Manchester United have pushed back their deadline for a possible sale of the club to this summer, according to a report.
Citing sources close to the process, the Telegraph reports that the Glazer family is now targeting a sale before the soccer transfer window opens in June. Previously, the owners had been looking to complete a deal in the first quarter of 2023 or by the end of April, the report said.
Shares of operator Manchester United Ltd.
closed up 2% Monday, compared with the S&P’s
decline of 0.2%. Manchester United’s stock is down 12.1% this year, compared with the S&P 500’s gain of 0.4%.
The American Glazer family took control of Manchester United in 2005. The club had a calculated value of $4.6 billion in 2022, according to Forbes.
Related: Manchester United shares surge after report Qatari investors set to bid
In November, the Glazers confirmed they were exploring potential financial investment or an outright sale of the storied Premier League club. The owners want at least $6.08 billion, according to the Telegraph.
Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the chair of Qatar Islamic Bank and the son of a past prime minister of Qatar, has made a bid for the club. The bid will be debt-free through Sheikh Jassim’s Nine Two Foundation, which was named in an apparent nod to Manchester United’s “class of ’92” FA Youth Cup-winning team, which included future stars David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt.
The United in Focus website described Sheikh Jassim’s statement as “a promising start,” adding that “being debt-free is a must.” The value of the bid has not been disclosed.
However, the bid has attracted criticism, with Amnesty International describing it as “Qatari sportswashing,” citing the plight of migrant workers in Qatar, as well as the lack of rights for LGBTQ+ people and for women in the country.
Related: Manchester United stock soars as owners explore possible sale
MarketWatch was unable to reach the Nine Two Foundation with a request for comment on this story.
British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, CEO of the chemical giant Ineos, has also made a bid for Manchester United. The billionaire’s sporting links are strong: Ratcliffe, 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.
It is unclear whether Ratcliffe would be the sole investor, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Ineos declined to provide an update on the situation, when contacted by MarketWatch.
Now read: Qatar World Cup controversies raise profile of sports-related ESG, says portfolio manager
Detailed presentations will be given to Sheikh Jassim’s bid team and Ratcliffe’s bid team at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium this week, the Telegraph reports.
The presentations are from senior club staff, according to the BBC, which says they will involve the club’s efforts to generate more income.
American investment group Elliott Management Corp., which previously acquired Italian giant A.C. Milan, is also prepared to step into the Manchester United sale. While Elliott has no interest in buying the club, it is willing to provide financing to a bidder. Citing a person familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that Elliott isn’t currently aligned with any particular bidder.
However, some Manchester United fans have voiced their concerns about Elliott’s possible involvement.
“That Elliot Management group terrify me,” tweeted Mark Goldbridge, a presenter for the United Stand unofficial Manchester United fan channel. “Investment is [just] more debt from people who don’t care about the club and just want a return.”
Also read: Qatar World Cup controversies raise profile of sports-related ESG, says portfolio manager
“Elliott Management’s thinking is clear: there is money to be made in Manchester United,” tweeted the @BoycottGlazers Twitter account. “That’s based on [commercial] & broadcasting potentials at the club. Take that away & the club is a lot less attractive to them.”
Elliott Management declined to comment when contacted by MarketWatch for this article.
The Glazers have come under intense pressure to sell the iconic English football club amid ongoing fan frustration over what is seen as underperformance. The club, one of the biggest names in world soccer, last won the Premier League in 2013. In 2021, the Glazers faced major backlash from fans over planned involvement in the controversial European Super League.
Manchester United did clinch its first silverware in six years last month, with a 2-0 defeat of Newcastle United in the League Cup final.