Man Utd to score £210m in flotation

The Red Devils are to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, raising $330m for the most valuable club in the world.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

After much rumour and intrigue, Manchester United FC has finally filed its documents with the SEC, saying it will sell 16.7 million shares at anywhere from $16 to $20 a piece. If the club fetches that kind of money, it will mean a £210m windfall for its owners, the Glazer family, and would value the club at around $2.23bn. They’re not going to relinquish any control though: their Class B shares will have 10 times the voting power of the Class A shares being sold to the general public. Great tactics on and off the field.

The Glazer family bought the club in 2005, but as they are US billionaires, there have long been whispers that Man U could end up going public, especially given the immense brand value it has overseas. It is one of the most well known clubs in the world, and that red and gold seal has shifted billions of dollars worth of merchandise to fanatics over the years. 

But the club currently has around £473m in debt. That’s not unusual for a football club – they almost all lose their owners’ a lot of money – but without a cash injection the situation could be worsening. Since the club was knocked out of the Champions League last year, revenues have taken a dip (that’s in the SEC filing) thanks mainly to a 13% drop in broadcasting revenues. Failing to make it past the group stages of the Champions League is always going to take its toll on what broadcasters are prepared to pay. And they already needed some persuading to allow Spud Face Rooney to appear on TV screens...

But United said it does intend to use the proceeds of the float to pay down a big chunk of that debt in order to avoid the risk of being backed into a financial corner in the future. Man U is one of the very few clubs that actually resemble well-run businesses as it actually turns a profit: this year it expects to make as much as £23m, an increase of 77% compared with last year. 

The club, which came second last season and with 19 titles is the most successful club the League has ever seen, could yet prove that big business and football can be a dream team…

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