KEVIN GLAZER’S sudden move on the New York Stock Exchange may be the prelude to a full sale of Manchester United after all.
The gossip in financial circles is that Glazer’s decision to convert his 13 per cent stake into shares that can be traded on the open market is a way to test the appetite for a takeover.
The five other Glazer siblings would then know whether it would be possible to cash in on the club that their family has controlled for 14 years.
If that is the intention, it is understood the answer so far is no, with no concrete interest expressed in Kevin’s stake.
But United fans demanding new owners will be hopeful it is at least the beginning of the end.
Earlier this month, Kevin Glazer converted all his B-class shares in United into A-class — the stock traded on the NYSE.
The 20,899,366 A-shares, now owned by the Kevin Glazer Irrevocable Exempt Family Trust, are worth about £270million.
Since SunSport revealed the move, it has been claimed the conversion was a simple technicality designed to reduce Kevin’s tax bill for any money made from the shares.
But there are plenty of reasons to believe he and other members of his family may feel it is time to cut and run.
United are in a mess on the pitch and now the cracks are starting to show off it.
Vice-chairman Ed Woodward has warned investors revenue this year will fall significantly from last season’s record high of £627m, mainly because of the lack of Champions League football.
And SunSport revealed in May that sponsors were beginning to become twitchy about their association with the club.
Some came to Old Trafford for the final game of last season but the 2-0 defeat by relegated Cardiff did little to improve the mood at the following day’s meeting.
Sure enough, it was revealed recently that Chevrolet will not be renewing their £450m, seven-year deal when it expires in 2021.
It is claimed there are a number of firms happy to step in with an even more lucrative arrangement.
But the general feeling is that United are finally starting to pay the price for years of poor management, during which the Glazers have extracted more than £1billion from the club.
This time last year, United’s share price was $22.74 but it has been on a downward trend since then — much like the team’s fortunes on the pitch.
The current price of just over $16 represents a fall in value of more than 28 per cent.
Dan King's Verdict
AS EVER with the secretive Glazer family, you have to read between the lines to try to work out what Kevin Glazer’s move means.
What seems certain is that Kevin wants out and will now have brokers busily finding buyers prepared to turn his shares into a nest egg worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
If he’s not really interested in United, it looks like a good call.
The issues on the pitch will need big investment to fix, and if they’re not fixed, they will start having a significant effect on the bottom line.
Rather than wait for a turnaround – or further decline – Kevin’s decided to bite the bullet and count the money.
But in a sense, it doesn’t really change anything at United, at least not in the short term.
Even if only Joel and Avi Glazer are truly committed to staying in control of the club, the family philosophy of using United as a cash cow will remain in place – just with fewer Glazers involved.
They will have their work cut out to find new ways to squeeze more money out of the United name.
Will someone emerge to make an offer that even those two can’t refuse? United fans will hope so, but they won’t be holding their breath.
The company has underperformed compared to other sports and entertainment firms and to the US market in general.
The cost of improving on-pitch performance, in order to drive revenues back up to a level to justify big dividend payments to shareholders, is likely to be large.
Of course, these motives for the Glazers to cash in now are also reasons for new investors NOT to buy into United.
It is hard to see United generating big returns in the short term.
That means the only likely bidders are those who would treat United as a trophy asset, rather than a cash cow.
SunSport revealed in August last year that the Saudi regime was keen on a buyout and asked super agent Pini Zahavi to broker a deal.
Manchester United News
But the Glazers, with co-chairmen Joel and Avi to the fore, said United was not for sale.
Experts said one way of achieving change would be for an interested party to buy a small stake, then move to a full takeover if both sides were happy.
Supporters desperate to see the #GlazersOut campaign succeed will hope Kevin’s sudden move is evidence that their attitude has changed in the past few months.
This post written by Jack Figg originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.