Avram Glazer’s presence at Wembley as Manchester United lifted the first trophy of the Erik ten Hag era has “fed growing fears the club will not be sold outright,” Sky Sports News has been told.
Sources that have worked with the owners indicate the executive co-chairman and his brother Joel are reluctant to cede United, in contrast to their siblings Kevin, Edward, Bryan and Darcie – a position hardened by “underwhelming indicative offers”.
The Glazers expected more interest to be registered to The Raine Group by their soft deadline for proposals on February 17. Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe are the only public bidders, and their tenders fall short of the £6bn being targeted.
Formal offers would need to be significantly increased to tempt the Glazers into an outright sale. Their feeling is that United’s stature, pull around the globe especially in emerging markets and potential for future growth revenue has been underestimated. This is even factoring in the club’s net debt of £656m, transfer fees owed and the enormous cost of enhancing the infrastructure.
Avram Glazer, who was in the company of Sir Alex Ferguson as a six-year wait for a trophy was ended in Carabao Cup final victory over Newcastle, has previously said the process to explore strategic alternatives is “not necessarily a sale.”
The club’s statement on the matter ended with the kicker that “there can be no assurance that the review being undertaken will result in any transaction involving the company”.
As recently as October, Ratcliffe revealed the Glazers “do not want to sell”.
Sources say that the market has been slightly misread after the scale of interest when Chelsea was available to buy in contrasting circumstances.
This is also evident in John W Henry announcing Fenway Sports Group would retain control of Liverpool and only investment is currently being considered.
United fans made their stance clear even amid the joy of Sunday’s win. “We want Glazers out” was the most consistent chant at Wembley.
When asked about Avram’s attendance of the final, Ten Hag said: “He was really happy for the club, as our owner. He wanted to be part of it. He was in the dressing room, it was good he was here. It showed his intentions.”
On what those intentions are, he added: “I don’t know, I’m not involved in that process but the way he is here, you feel he is committed. What he wants, that is not for me [to say]. I have to lead this team. Others in the club are involved in decisions about ownership.”
Glazers ‘misread the market’ over Man Utd sale
Sky Sports News senior reporter Melissa Reddy:
“They were expecting a greater uptake [for the sale of Man Utd] – we know there are only two public bidders, neither of them have got close to the £6bn valuation the Glazers want.
“They feel that the club when you look at the potential for commercial growth, how they factor in emerging markets and just what a massive sporting asset this is.
“It doesn’t matter how much debt the club has, it doesn’t matter how much the infrastructure is going to cost, it doesn’t matter how much they owe in transfer fees. The Glazers believe you should be puffing your chest out to own Man Utd and if you take it from them you’ve got to put the money down.
“At the moment, it seems like they’re very, very reluctant to part with the club especially if they don’t get anywhere close to their valuation.
“I think they misread the market. Liverpool’s owners, FSG, had the same thing. They looked at Chelsea, whose sale was completely different, there were sanctions imposed and it needed to be a quick-fire sale.
“The scale of interest told Man Utd and Liverpool owners that there would be greater interest because they are two bigger clubs, but that hasn’t really been the case. There are few things bubbling underneath that show we might be getting too excited about a Man Utd takeover.”
Man Utd share price drops almost 10 per cent
Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:
United’s share price was down by almost 10 per cent on Monday amid concerns that the Glazers will not sell and a Financial Times report which has calculated the club are worth only £1.3bn.
Despite their Carabao Cup final success at Wembley on Sunday, United’s share price is currently down 9.6 per cent at $20.62 and has gone down 17 per cent in a week, wiping almost $1bn off the value of the club.
Meanwhile, as of Monday afternoon bidders were still waiting to hear back from The Raine Group, who are organising the potential sale on behalf of the Glazer family, about the next steps in the process.
Only Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe made indicative offers to buy United before the soft deadline on February 17.
If the Glazers do want to sell, the bids from Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe would be given access to detailed financial information and data so they can proceed to making formal offers for the club.
Elliott Management, MSD Partners and Oaktree Capital are understood to be willing to provide financing for any bidders.
However, there are still concerns that the Glazers will not sell the club and are only seeking minority investment.
Analysis: Is this actually a good time to sell Man Utd?
Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:
“The Glazers have never come out and said they definitely want to sell the club, they’ve been very clever about what they’ve said.
“In November they said they were exploring alternative strategies that could potentially lead to a sale. But you could make the argument that Man Utd are playing so well at the moment, winning trophies again, is this a good time to sell?
“Maybe the clever thing to do is hold onto the club, but just sell a small stake, and use the money from that to invest into redeveloping the stadium and the training ground.”
Ten Hag on Glazer after Wembley win: ‘He wanted to be part of it’
Ten Hag said after the Carabao Cup final that Avram Glazer’s attendance at Wembley demonstrated his commitment to the club.
Ten Hag said: “He [Avram Glazer] was really happy for the club, as our owner. He wanted to be part of it.
“He was in the dressing room, good he was here, showed his intentions.
“I don’t know [anything about a potential sale of the club], I’m not involved in that process, but the way he is here you feel he is committed. But the process, what he wants, that is not for me.
“I lead this team, others are involved in decisions about ownership.”
‘Whiners to winners’ – Nev on Ten Hag’s Man Utd transformation
Gary Neville praised Manchester United’s transformation under Ten Hag after their Carabao Cup final win.
Neville said: “It’s about one man that has transformed a team from whiners into winners – what a job Erik ten Hag has done.
“Players are out there that shouldn’t have played for Manchester United again but they are performing at a high level.
“They have a spirit and a fight. There is a real chance of winning trophies beyond this. He makes good decisions in matches – his subs were critical in making sure they saw this game out. It’s been a brilliant last few months.”