Football finance expert Kieran Maguire has looked at what it would take for billionaire owners the Glazer family to pack up and sell Manchester United Football Club.
In a highly detailed column for The Times, Maguire confirmed that when the Glazer family took over a controlling stake in Man United in 2005 for an estimated £790m, the club had £6m in the bank and zero debt.
Fast forward 16-years and the picture is far less rosy.
Sunday afternoon saw thousands of fans voice their discontent during a tense protest outside of Old Trafford – the club’s iconic stadium.
Fans’ misery has been piled on by the recently collapsed plans to form a pioneering breakaway league in favour of a European Super League.
Taking to the Old Trafford turf just hours before their team’s Premier League match against rivals Liverpool was scheduled to kick-off, Man United fans could be heard chanting “We want Glazers out! – We want Glazers out!”
In what is now becoming a widespread movement designed to force the Glazer family out of the club, Maguire has hinted at what it could take for Man United’s ownership to change hands.
“At present, the shares are worth about £2.1 billion,” Maguire wrote. “Anyone wanting to take over the club would have to pay a premium to persuade the Glazers to sell, so realistically a £3 billion offer would be necessary, leaving them with a handsome profit.
“In addition, lenders may invoke a change of control clause and demand repayment from a new owner, which takes the overall price to about £4 billion.”
Although there have been several suggestions that a 50+1 ownership model could be introduced – the same as what the Bundesliga has – Maguire has warned that the idea may not work as well as fans think.
“The German Bundesliga 50+1 rule has also been championed by some,” he added. “The German FA prevents any single investor from owning more than half the shares in a club. This allows fans’ views to be represented in the boardroom if they act collectively to vote in directors.
“It is unlikely that such an idea would work in England as it potentially would require huge compensation to existing shareholders.
“An alternative approach could be achieved via either the FA or government legislation mandating that fans could appoint non-executive directors. These directors could vote at board meetings and even have a veto over key decisions such as resigning from a league, moving the stadium more than ten miles and change of club colours, crest etc.
“This would not require any financial costs to those involved.”