Manchester United up for sale – what happens now?

BBC 

Manchester United’s owners sent shockwaves round the globe on Tuesday night when they announced they were “exploring strategic opportunities” for the club, which could include selling it.

For the fans, who have demanded the Glazers leave from the moment they arrived in 2005 thanks to a leveraged buyout that still sees United saddled with a £514.9m debt – and point to over £600m going out of the club on interest and dividend payments – it is what they have been waiting nearly 20 years for.

Yet there is no certainty over what happens next.

United have spent big on transfers and wages but it has got them no closer to challenging for major honours, something they have failed to do since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

BBC Sport assesses what happens now.

Why do they want to sell now?

United were already committed to a significant capital outlay on Old Trafford. In April they appointed master planners but a decision is still to be taken over the extent of the changes. Then in September, chief executive Richard Arnold said the club needed to be “disciplined in our capital plans”.

In other words, the eventual changes – which range from building an entirely new stadium to tinkering with the current structure – will require external funding. 

Given the additional outlook – including increased competition from cash-rich Newcastle, the funds needed to invest in manager Erik ten Hag’s squad, Chelsea being sold in the summer for far more than anticipated, and the failure of the European Super League to get off the ground – it does feel like an appropriate time for the Glazer family to test the water in terms of what they could receive by selling the club.

Who could buy Man Utd?

A figure of £4bn has been touted for a period of time as one that might just get the Glazers to the negotiating table. As it turns out, they have come to the table first and are waiting to receive offers.

Realistically, there are not many sources of funds that size. There is no chance of Russian or Chinese involvement, due to the former’s invasion of the Ukraine and the latter’s government policy.

Saudi Arabia are committed to Newcastle, Qatar Sports Investment would need to sell Paris St-Germain, while Dubai and Bahrain are neighbours in the Gulf region with no comparable investment. 

The Glazers missed out on an India Premier League franchise last year, but evidently now have contacts in India, a country where United have an estimated 35m followers and were due to visit as part of their 2020-21 pre-season tour, only for the trip to get scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic…

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