(Nov 23): Manchester United said on Tuesday it was commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives, including a new investment or a potential sale, 17 years after the American Glazer family bought the English Premier League soccer club.
The Glazer family is working with financial advisers on the process, which could lead to a partial sale of the club or investments including stadium and infrastructure redevelopment, the club said in a statement.
Manchester United fans have been clamouring for a change of ownership and the Glazers have been the target of intense criticism as the team has gone five years without winning a trophy.
"As we seek to continue building on the club’s history of success, the board has authorized a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives," Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer, executive co-chairmen and directors of Manchester United, said in the statement.
"We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future," the statement said.
Also on Tuesday, the club said that star striker Cristiano Ronaldo will leave with immediate effect, marking a bitter end to the Portugal captain's second spell at Old Trafford after he said he felt betrayed by the club.
The Glazers bought the club for 790 million pounds (US$939.07 million) in 2005 in a highly leveraged deal which has been criticized for loading debt onto the club.
United has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2012, when the Glazers sold 10% of their holding via the listing and have sold more shares since.
The Raine Group is acting as financial adviser and Latham & Watkins LLP is the legal adviser to Manchester United.
Rothschild and Co is acting as financial adviser to the Glazer family shareholders.
Manchester United's shares jumped as much as 12% after Sky News earlier reported the plans.
Among the fan protests against the Glazers was one in May 2021 that forced the postponement of a home match against Liverpool, one of the club's biggest rivals. It was the first Premier League match to be postponed because of a protest.
Liverpool are also "exploring a sale" according to club chairman Tom Werner. In May 2022, Chelsea Football Club was sold to a consortium led by an investment group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital for US$3.2 billion (2.5 billion pounds).
United finished sixth last season in their worst Premier League campaign with respect to points earned, failing to qualify for the lucrative European Champions League.
They won the last of their record 20 top-flight league titles in 2013, the year Alex Ferguson stepped down as manager after more than 26 years in charge.
The club hired Dutch manager Erik ten Hag from Ajax Amsterdam in a bid to turn around their fortunes. United are fifth in the Premier League.