Any delay in the sale of Manchester United could lead to a “vacuum” that impacts transfers at the end of the season.
That is according to football finance expert Kieran Maguire, who also believes the reportedly high asking price put on the Premier League club by owners the Glazer family is because United are seen as a “trophy asset”.
The deadline for bids for the club passed at 9pm GMT on Wednesday, though reports have suggested both British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe and Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Al Thani requested an extension before submitting their respective offers.
Speaking to Stats Perform, Maguire detailed why any buyer will likely want to get a deal over the line quickly in preparation for the transfer window at the end of the season.
“I think whoever does acquire Manchester United will want to do it as early as they can into the transfer window for the summer of 2023 because they’ll be wanting to make a statement,” he said.
“Also, from the Glazers’ point of view, they don’t want to be committing themselves or committing the club to long-term contracts on players who might not be in favour with any potential new owners.
“So the danger is that if things are dragging on over the summer, there could be a vacuum with regard to player trading.”
Scoring your first goal at Old Trafford…
There’s no better feeling #MUFC pic.twitter.com/dJdVFnPFOM
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 20, 2023
Though reports suggest that several bids for either a takeover or minority investment have been made, Ratcliffe and Shekh Jassim have been the most public about their interest, though have made it known they do not want to pay over the odds for the Red Devils.
It is expected that any successful bid would need to be above the world-record amount paid for a sports team, which was NFL franchise the Denver Broncos when they were bought for $4.65billion by the Walton-Penner family ownership group in June last year.
Maguire explained that the money involved in acquiring a sports team is rarely based on financial prudence, rather it is a way for billionaires to “win the room” among their peers.
“If you take a look at Chelsea, which was sold for around $3billion last year, that was a distressed asset,” Maguire said. “Roman Abramovich had his assets frozen by the UK government at the time and I think that took a lot of people by surprise, because Chelsea had lost well over £1million a week for 19 years under Abramovich.
“You put that into any spreadsheet and the fundamentals say the business isn’t worth it, but football is a trophy asset industry.
“There are many billionaires who want to make a statement and the way to do that is to buy a brand, to buy a franchise, which from a financial perspective the prices cannot be justified, but if you’ve got billions burning a hole in your pocket, what better way to win the room?
“If your social circle is fellow billionaires, everybody’s got an apartment in Manhattan and Monaco, everybody owns a yacht, everybody’s got a few helicopters, but if you own a sports franchise which is as unique as the Broncos or in the world of football, Manchester United, then you win the room, and that’s what the price is going to be linked to.
“On a cash flow basis, on a comparative basis to other football clubs, are Manchester United bigger than Newcastle United? Yes it is, but is it worth 20 times the price of Newcastle? The answer, fundamentally, is no, but that’s probably what it’s going to take to persuade the Glazer family to sell.”
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