Manchester United’s U.S. owners would be prepared to sell the English Premier League club — one of the 12 teams that signed up for the ill-starred Super League — for 4 billion pounds ($5.6 billion), the Irish Mirror reported Saturday.
The Glazer family thinks the price tag is justified because the storied club will be able to secure significant sponsorship deals even after the Super League collapsed in the past week, the newspaper reported, without citing the source for its information.
The report wasn’t clear if the price referred to the Glazers’ majority holding or the value of the whole company. No one was available to comment at United outside of normal business hours.
The short-lived existence of the Super League, which imploded in a matter of days following opposition from supporter groups, players and politicians, has prompted speculation on how long U.S. owners will maintain their presence in English soccer. The abrupt failure of a U.S.-inspired model that largely closed the competition to elite clubs has, for now, curbed the financial upside of owning an English Premier League team.
The founding teams, originally envisaged to total 15, would have shared an upfront payment of about $4.2 billion. The controversy has prompted several potential buyers to express interest in taking over U.S.-owned assets.
Hedge fund titan Paul Marshall and former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economist Jim O’Neill — both long-time United fans who tried to buy the club in 2010 — published a letter on Friday calling on the Glazers to sell down their stake to a maximum of 49.9%.
The pair also suggested the shares should be sold at the initial 2012 IPO price of $14 apiece. They closed Friday at $16.20 in New York. Including debt, United has an enterprise value of $3.3 billion.
And Daniel Ek, Spotify’s founder and a life-long supporter of Arsenal, tweeted that he’d be interested if Stan Kroenke were to sell up. Kroenke owns all of the London-based team after taking it private three years ago in a deal valuing the club at $2.3 billion.
The Glazers’ 16-year control of Manchester United has been controversial since they took over after an acrimonious 790 million-pound battle.
On Saturday, hundreds of fans gathered outside the club’s Old Trafford stadium protesting the family’s decision to involve United in the breakaway European league with other heavyweights including Spain’s Real Madrid and Italy’s Juventus.
— With assistance by Yueqi Yang