Manchester United’s share price plummeted over nine per cent on Tuesday amid fears the Glazer family won’t sell the club after all.
Shares valued at $25.55 [£21.08] on the New York Stock Exchange at the opening of Tuesday’s trading had slumped to $24.27 [£20.02] within 30 minutes. A slight rebound was followed by another fall to $24.10 [£19.88] approaching 11am in New York before it tumbled below the $24 [£19.80] mark.
The future ownership of the Old Trafford club – valued by the Glazers at £6billion – has been the topic of intense debate in recent days as rival bids jostle for position following Friday’s ‘soft deadline’ set by the Raine Group.
Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, the chairman of one of Qatar’s biggest banks, confirmed his Nine Two Foundation’s intention to bid for the club. They were joined in the race by Ineos, owned by British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
News of the bids caused United’s share price to leap significantly on Friday but these gains have now been wiped off. It has been reported that the Glazers have been offered the financial backing to remain as United’s owners by American hedge fund Elliott Management.
This would mean current co-chairs Joel and Avram Glazer continuing their involvement in the club, despite strong opposition from United’s fans. They enlisted US bank Raine Group, who oversaw the sale of Chelsea last year, in November to seek ‘strategic alternatives’ for United’s ownership, which didn’t rule out retaining a stake in the club.
Both Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim have stated their intention to become majority or sole owners of United. It has been reported both bids received a warning from the Raine Group about making statements promising to return the ‘glory years’ to United – which they viewed as implied criticism of the Glazers’ reign.
It came as United legend Gary Neville voiced his suspicions the Glazers, who bought United in a debt-leveraged takeover in 2005, might not be going anywhere following an increase in season ticket prices.
United announced on Monday they would be raising prices for the first time in 11 years – by five per cent – amid “challenging” increases in matchday costs. It left fans bemused given confidence – especially from the Qatari bid – that a takeover could be completed by the summer.
The former defender-turned-pundit labelled the price hike as ‘very odd’ and questioned why they would announce such a move if they were planning to sell up.
United legend Neville tweeted: ‘The increase to ticket prices at United is very odd! Why would a seller that’s leaving before the next season starts introduce something that has brought them more hate and they won’t benefit from!
“Any new buyer would most likely freeze the price in year one to stay on side with fans. It does beg the question whether they are really going! I have my doubts with actions like this one!”
Earlier this week, Neville said news of Elliott’s intervention to provide financing would concern fans because it would benefit Joel and Avram Glazer while allowing other members of the family to sell unwanted shares.
“I think what scares Man United fans most is the feeling this Man United ownership are running this process to drive a massive price up to try to somehow establish a level which means two of them can stay in and the rest of the family that want out can be bought out by an American fund who wouldn’t mind owning a minority or significant share but not the entirety of the share,” said Neville on his Sky Sports podcast.
“That’s the biggest concern. The whole emphasis at this moment in time from Man United fans is this has to be the end of the Glazer ownership.
“They’ve run out of money, they’ve not invested in the stadium… the fans want a new stadium, whether that’s Old Trafford refurbished or a new one rebuilt, we need new facilities. Man United’s stadium is behind a lot of the big [clubs] in Europe
“I still think there is a focus that this isn’t one big charade that the Glazers are running to try to establish a value which would be for their brothers and sisters to exit and the couple that want to stay in to stay. There’s a priority at this moment in time for them to go.”
Season ticket prices are being raised by five per cent per match, which, depending on the price of a ticket, could see rises of £1 or £2 a ticket per game.
United say they are covering more than 50 per cent of the inflationary cost of the ticket.
“The modest increase in price for the 2023-24 season is necessary to allow the club to operate on a sustainable basis,” a statement on the club’s website read.