As of Friday, Manchester United is worth an implied £1.43bn, making it the most valuable football team in the world. The wealthy fans known as the Red Knights, including Goldman Sachs chairman Jim O’Neill, prepared for a bid of around £1bn in 2010, but the Glazers always believed the team was worth more, despite the club’s significant debts. Even after cutting the IPO price to $14 from the expected range of $16-$20 on Friday, they have been proved right.
However, as so often, you have to be careful what you wish for. The Glazers prevented new shareholders from exercising any real power through a dual-class structure, but that isn’t the only danger. Putting a public valuation on Man U, and a lower one than the Glazers wished for, leaves the door open for offers they will no longer find so easy to dismiss out of hand – especially if shares continue to trade lower.