Manchester United owners the Glazer family suffered another defeat today when they lost out in an auction for one of two new franchises in cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL).
Avram Glazer’s Lancer Capital made a bid for one of the new teams, which will begin competing next year when the high-profile Twenty20 competition expands to 10 sides, at the auction in Dubai’s Taj Hotel.
But the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) preferred offers from industrial and services conglomerate the RP Sanjeev Goenka Group (RPSG) and private equity house CVC Capital Partners, an increasingly prolific sports investor.
RPSG paid around £677m for a franchise to be based in Lucknow, while CVC offered £503m for a team set to play in Ahmedabad. It is not known how much Glazer’s Lancer Capital bid.
“The level of interest among the interested parties prove that IPL is among the most sought-after sporting leagues in the world,” said its president Brijesh Patel.
“We had bids from different parts of the world and from parties with diverse portfolios wanting to make a foray into the world of sports.”
The cost of buying an IPL franchise has rocketed as the star-studded competition has grown in popularity. The most expensive team when it began in 2008 was the Mumbai Indians, which cost Mukesh Ambani around £80m.
CVC has snapped up sports properties in the last few years, having previously been majority shareholder in Formula 1. It now owns significant minority stakes in the Six Nations and Premiership Rugby as well as a new volleyball venture with the sport’s governing body.
This year it agreed to buy 11 per cent of the commercial rights to Spanish football’s LaLiga, while the men’s and women’s elite tennis tours have also discussed forming a single commercial entity under plans that would see CVC invest.
The setback to the Glazers came 24 hours after United were humiliated 5-0 by Liverpool at Old Trafford in the Premier League.
That defeat was the football club’s fifth in nine games and the heaviest they had suffered against their traditional north-west rivals since 1925.
It also heaped further pressure on the American family, who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the National Football League (NFL), to sack manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Glazers have so far resisted calls to dispense with Solskjaer, who remains in line to be in charge for next weekend’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.
It is the first of three games that United will play before club football next takes a two-week break for international fixtures to take place – a period in which clubs have traditionally made managerial changes.
Solskjaer took charge in December 2018, initially on an interim basis, after the club fired Jose Mourinho. His appointment was made permanent in March 2019, shortly after a memorable Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain.
The former United striker has steered the club back into the Premier League’s top four, finishing third in 2019-20 and second last season, earning him a new three-year contract during the summer.
But Solskjaer’s critics point to his failure to win any silverware, despite reaching the Europa League final in May. Sunday’s defeat has left United seventh in the table after nine games of the current campaign.
Former Chelsea, Italy and Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte is said to be among the leading contenders should the Glazers decide to fire Solskjaer.
United’s share price remained largely flat on Monday despite the Liverpool result and speculation over Solskjaer’s future.
Shares opened at $16.01, 1.17 per cent down on the price at the close of trading in New York on Friday, and dipped to $15.83 at one point before recovering.