Manchester United, one of the most prized sports franchises on the planet, may be up for sale after its American owners, the Glazer family, said they had hired advisers to find outside investors or sell the team.
Shares of the fabled soccer club, which plays in the English Premier League, the most popular soccer league in the world, have jumped nearly 30 percent on the New York Stock Exchange over the past two trading sessions. The club’s market value reached nearly $2.8 billion after the rally, the DealBook newsletter reports.
The club’s board will “consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale or other transactions,” it said in a statement, adding that the review may result in no action being taken.
Forbes has valued Manchester United, which has an avid global fan base and rich history, at closer to twice that, but determining a soccer club’s worth can be tricky. A group led by the private equity firm Clearlake Capital paid a record free of up to $5.1 billion in May for Chelsea F.C., Manchester’s Premier League rival, but Chelsea does not compare to Manchester United in terms of global reach, popularity and brand power.
Owning Manchester United is not without its challenges. It parted ways with its star player Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday, and fans have been clamoring for a change in ownership for years, as the club has not won a league title since 2013.
Deal-making is heating up in the Premier League. After Clearlake acquired Chelsea from the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, Liverpool also found itself on the block. The club’s American owners, Fenway Sports Group, which also owns the Boston Red Sox, put it up for sale this month.
Who would bid for Manchester United? The private equity group Apollo and Britain’s richest man, Jim Ratcliffe, emerged as possible suitors in August when rumors began circulating that the Glazers, who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, were looking for an exit.
A spokesman for Mr. Ratcliffe, the billionaire founder of the chemicals giant Ineos, told DealBook at the time that he “would be interested in buying the club if it was for sale.” When reached on Wednesday morning, he had no further comment. Apollo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Manchester United’s board has hired the Raine Group and Latham & Watkins to advise in any deal; the Glazers have also brought on Rothschild & Company to assist.