American owners of Manchester United could be set to list the football club on the Hong Kong stock exchange, which could value the club at around £1.7 billion.
Manchester United is the most valuable sports franchise in the world and has a large following across Asia, meaning that listing in Hong Kong could make a rather large increase in the valuation. The Glazer family paid just £790 million for the club in 2005 and have loaded their own personal debt onto the club ever since.
The English Premier League generates more money in TV revenue and merchandise across the globe than any other top division. TV revenue in the Premier League is much higher than their competitors’ with the 20th-placed (last place) team earning more money a season through TV rights than third place in Spain’s La Liga.
Manchester United are the highest operating profit makers in the Premier League with 300 million fans worldwide. The club, therefore, makes around £300 million a year in revenue, but due to interest payments taken out by the American owners, they still make a yearly loss. Last season, the club made a ridiculous loss of around £80 million despite incredible success both on and off the field.
Recent Hong Kong stock exchange floats, Samsonite and Prada, have reportedly made the Florida-based owners extremely interested after discussions with investment banks.
An initial public offering for the club is set to be made in Asia, but the owners should be considering listing in London in order to allow fans to share in the ownership of the club, an argument supported by the Manchester United Supporter’s Trust (MUST).
If the Glazers are to list the club on the stock exchange, then it would generate a profit of up to £1 billion for them, which is the only disappointing aspect of the situation. The Glazers have rejected bids in recent times, including a £1 billion offer from the Red Knights. The Red Knights is an organisation set up by wealthy Manchester United supporters attempting to legitimately take control of the club and financially supply it with the resources to compete at the highest level again in the transfer market.
Even though the Glazers will not give an IPO in the London stock exchange, allowing British fans to get shares in the company and the fact the owners will generate great profit from the transaction, it will still be a progressive success in the future of Manchester United.
Fans still need to be cautious in this latest development, but as long as it rids the Glazers’ stronghold on the club, then the future looks bright at Old Trafford.