The future of Manchester United will be on uncertain ground in 2023 after the Glazer family outlined their interest in selling the club.

The future of Manchester United will be on uncertain ground in 2023 after the Glazer family outlined their interest in selling the club.

The US-based investors have endured a controversial relationship with United fans since taking charge at Old Trafford in 2005 and confirmed in November that they were exploring the possibility of a sale.

Despite an initial spark of speculation over what could happen next with the Glazer’s ownership of United, potential buyers are yet to register a consistent interest.

Still, with the Glazers reportedly keen to sign off on any deal in the first quarter of 2023, you can expect significant developments in the coming weeks.

Following the initial rumours, United and the Glazers released a statement to address the situation, and they are open to a direct sale.

“The strength of Manchester United rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers,” the statement said.

“As we seek to continue building on the club’s history of success, the board has authorized a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives.

“The board will consider all strategic alternatives. That includes new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the company.”

Following the Glazers’ announcement, there was a fluctuation on United’s stock and company valuation, as the financial markets reacted to the news.

The expectation is that a lower price will be negotiated as part of takeover talks, with reports from the Financial Times estimating the club has an overall worth of around $3.5 billion, despite previous estimates of over $4bn.

Interest in United will continue to grow, particularly if their value drops, with rumours connecting individuals and companies with a move.

The current frontrunners to take over include the Dubai Sovereign Wealth Fund (DWSF) and British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe as United aim to keep pace with neighbours Manchester City, backed by their Abu Dhabi ownership.

Ratcliffe was linked with a takeover offer before the Glazers’ arrival 17 years ago, while an offer from the DWSF would continue the pattern of state ownership of clubs in European football.

The Glazers’ connection with United stretches back to 2003, following their initial purchase of club shares through a 2.9% stake at Old Trafford.

That was followed up by gradual share increases year by year up until 2005, where they purchased a controlling stake from former owners JP McManus and John Magnier.

Following a rapid buying of shares in the summer of 2005, the Glazers completed a full takeover before the start of the 2005/06 season, with an estimated full purchase price of around £790 million ($1.5bn).

To finance the takeover, the family loaded some of the debt onto the club, putting them in the red for the first time since the 1930s. It is the club’s debt level, coupled with the Glazers taking millions in dividend payments each year while substantially reducing investment into certain areas of the club — such as the stadium — that has fuelled much of the anger towards their ownership among fans.

Links with a state-backed purchase are relatively new, with Dubai officials open to joining their neighbouring states in purchasing a major football club.

A report from the Daily Mirror claim the Dubai leadership are working on an investment portfolio involving private investors, after being put on ‘red alert’ by the Glazers’ announcement.

If Manchester United do get a new owner, famous fan Sir Jim Ratcliffe is a strong contender to take charge.

The 69-year-old was born in Greater Manchester and grew up supporting the club.

Ratcliffe founded chemical company INEOS in 1998 and this has allowed him to build an estimated net worth of £12 billion ($14.4m).

He has previously declared his interest in buying United should the opportunity arise, and his late bid to purchase Chelsea underlined his readiness to pounce in a difficult market.

Outside football, Ratcliffe also purchased the Team Sky cycling franchise in 2019, which was rebranded to INEOS Grenadiers. The company also has sponsorship deals with Mercedes AMG F1 and the All Blacks.

The prospect of a fairy-tale return for David Beckham has caused wild speculation amongst fans after former teammate Rio Ferdinand hinted at a potential deal.

Beckham has already expanded his post-playing career investment portfolio, with a majority stake in MLS side Inter Miami, but any interest would have to come as part of a combined bid.

If the Glazers want a quick sale, it appears unlikely that Beckham will pivot from his US project, despite the narrative behind his links to United.

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