Red Knights must raise £1bn to buy Manchester United from Glazers
The Glazer family’s determination to resist the Red Knights’ attempts to buy Manchester United is likely to be strengthened by figures which consider it to be the world’s most valuable club at $1,835m (£1,192m).
In a survey published by the respected American business website Forbes.com/soccer, the Premier League champions were valued, at the end of the 2008-09 season, to be worth £333m more than second-placed Real Madrid, whose brand value was estimated at £859m. Both clubs saw their value shrink by 2pc from last year’s figures.
Although the Premier League has suffered a fall from grace in the Champions League this season, with none of its four entrants reaching the semi-final stage, the English game dominates the Forbes top 10, with Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea joining United alongside three Italian clubs, two from Spain and one from Germany.
More worrying, however, is the claim that the Premier League is the most indebted in Europe, carrying 56pct of all the debt of the region’s top leagues combined, according to Forbes.
While United, whose debt stands at £716.5m, declined to comment on the results of the survey, their presence at the top of the Forbes list, which ranks the top 20 most valuable clubs, is known to strengthen their ability to secure lucrative sponsorship and partnership agreements across the globe.
The club’s London-based commercial operation has generated more than £130m in sponsorship deals since opening for business two years ago — including an £80m, four-year shirt sponsorship deal with Aon which is due to start in July — with the Glazers keen to fully exploit the power of the club’s brand image.
The Red Knights, a group of wealthy businessmen, are attempting to raise funds to launch a takeover bid at Old Trafford, but the Forbes figures suggest they must raise well in excess of £1bn if they are to make a viable offer for the club.
According to Forbes, the world’s 20 most valuable football clubs generated a combined £422m in operating income last season.
Their combined revenues grew by €26m to €3.9bn for the 2008—09 season, while their value rose from €439m to an average of €451m.
But the top five clubs — United, Real, Arsenal, Barcelona and Bayern Munich — took in 86pc of the total due to their worldwide following allowing them to claim greater sponsorship and media revenue.
Broadcast rights account for 42pc of the revenue of Europe’s top 20 clubs, with sponsorship, merchandising and ticket sales providing the bulk of the rest.