MANCHESTER UNITED supporters have welcomed suggestions the club could be floated by its owners the Glazer family – but want any listing to take place in London rather than Hong Kong. Bankers are said to have told the Glazers that the Premier League champions could be valued at as much as £1.7bn if listed in Asia, where the team have carefully built up a large following. That is thought to be substantially higher than the price that a similar move in London could attract, and would offer the American property tycoons the chance to double their money, having bought the club for £790m in 2005. The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust, who have campaigned against the Glazers, said many fans would “cautiously welcome” the notion but that it raised “three immediate concerns”. “Firstly this would have to be a full IPO signalling a clean exit for the Glazers,” a spokesperson for MUST said. “Secondly the valuation would have to be realistic – something closer to £1bn rather than the £1.5bn-plus that the Glazers seem to feel is possible. Thirdly shares should be freely available to all Manchester United supporters and certainly floated on the UK market to maximise accessibility.” Talk of a listing could breathe new life into the plans of the Red Knights, the consortium of wealthy United fans led by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs and featuring several prominent City figures. The Glazers have been criticised for siphoning off cash in order pay interest on loans they took out when they bought United. Last year the club made a £79m loss despite revenues of £286m and an operating profit of £91m. Speculation they could be considering a sale heightened last year after the reclusive family paid off costly payment-in-kind loans without revealing where they had found the funding. Qatar Holding, the investment arm of the Gulf kingdom, were thought to have made enquiries about buying the club last year, although their camp distanced themselves from a bid.
Sunday 12 June 2011 9:44 pm
United fans urge Glazers to favour London listing