Tuesday 20 March 2018

Man United supporters urge club to float on stock market to block Glazers

Simon Stone

THE Manchester United Supporters Trust have called on the Glazer family to launch a full flotation of the Old Trafford outfit, amid reports that their planned initial public offering (IPO) launch in New York has been shelved.

First in Hong Kong and Singapore, then New York, it has seemed the Glazer family have been looking to raise additional capital through a partial sale of the club.

It is estimated the debt incurred during their leveraged takeover in 2005 has so far led to more than £500 million being taken out of United to pay assorted fees and charges.

And within their prospectus, it was admitted the club's present debt of £423 million could hamper them in the transfer market.

Though manager Alex Ferguson launched another passionate defence of the Glazers over the weekend, even moderate United fans are bewildered as to how a club who attract in excess of 70,000 supporters to every home game - and have greater commercial income than most clubs manage in total turnover - can encounter such massive problems trying to sign the best players.

More militant strands of that support, who have maintained a hostile stance towards the Glazers throughout their time associated with the club, are sensing a weakness.

With market conditions not improving and reception to a highly complicated IPO - that would bring in two classes of shares and effectively leave the Glazers in total control and require a new Manchester United company to be based in the Cayman Islands - said to be lukewarm, the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) have launched another attack.

"We now call on the Glazers to come back with a full flotation of Manchester United with a single class of full voting shares," MUST chief executive Duncan Drasdo said.

"Should they choose to do this, with no strings attached, we would support such a flotation wholeheartedly and encourage the global fan base of Manchester United to seize such an historic opportunity to secure a meaningful fan ownership stake where the priorities of the club are the same as the fans - not absentee owners."

It seems highly unlikely the supporters will get their wish. There are also reports that roadshows to publicise the IPO will be held, possibly as soon as tomorrow.

The absence of United chief executive David Gill from the pre-season tour of South Africa and Asia is an indication that might well happen.

It has even been suggested the club could price the offering at some point in the week commencing August 13.

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