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It’s back to the future for Manchester United as it prepares Far Eastern public share sale

Manchester United was a public company until it was bought by the hated (as far as the fans are concerned) Glazer family from Florida and now it looks as though it’s going to become one again (partly) as it prepares as $1bn share sale in Singapore.

The deal will value Man U at around £2bn, rather less than the Glazers once hoped for.

But the Glazers have incurred about £700m of debt on the club’s behalf since they bought it and clearly want to cash in on the booming popularity of soccer in the Far East.

The share sale will presumably allow them to stay in control, which a sale to rich Arabs and Russians would not.

Man U had a chequered history as a public company, with Rupert Murdoch-controlled BSKyB making a £1bn bid at one stage only to be confounded by UK competition law.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson (pictured) then fell out with two of his horse racing chums, John Magnier and JP McManus, over the stud rights to a horse they’d given him.

The two Irish tycoons promptly bought about a quarter of the club and sold it on to the Glazers who bought the club, effectively, with its own money.

So United fans will have mixed feelings about the latest move but wil console themselves that it should give them more firepower in the transfer market, although probably not on a par with Manchester rivals City which is owned by the mega-rich Abu Dhabi royal family.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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