SBD/October 24, 2012/Franchises

Glazer Family Has No Plans To Sell Manchester United "In The Near Future"

The Glazers parted with 10% of their ManU shares in the August IPO sale
EPL club Manchester United Vice Chair & Chief of Staff Ed Woodward yesterday said that the Glazer family has "no plans to sell" the club "in the near future," according to Neil Gardner of the LONDON TIMES. The Glazers' decision to "sell off 10 per cent of their shares in the club in the IPO sale in August raised some questions over their long-term involvement." But Woodward said that they "have no interest in cashing in the rest of their holding." He said, "There is always interest in this business. It is a phenomenal brand and club, but they are not willing sellers at all, they won’t even engage, they are long-term investors." Woodward said that the club now had "gross debt of around" $574M (all figures U.S.) and that it "was comfortable with interest payments of around [$49.4M] this year." He also "revealed that India and Australia are both on a shortlist of countries for United to tour in the summer." In addition, the club will "open an office on the east coast of the USA to try to cash in on growing interest in football in North America." (LONDON TIMES, 10/24). Woodward "declined to name the city" where the office will be located, but he indicated that the office will open as the clubs looks "to raise more cash to reduce the club's debt" (AP, 10/23).

GOING GLOBAL: In London, Mark Ogden notes the Glazers’ plans to "tap into the growing football market in India could open up a hugely lucrative new stream of revenue for the club." Although Blackburn Rovers, a Football League Championship team "owned by Indian poultry producers Venky’s, played a game in Pune last season, no Premier League club has yet undertaken a tour of the country." With Bundesliga club Bayern Munich "drawing crowds in excess of 100,000 on recent visits to the subcontinent and United aware of the vast English-speaking middle-class in the country, offers to play in India next year are currently being discussed at Old Trafford." Research shows ManU has "20 million fans in India, but while visiting the country has been mooted in the past, issues such as the Indian climate during the English pre-season have scuppered previous efforts to tour" (London TELEGRAPH, 10/24).

TAKING STOCK: In London, Bill Edgar notes ManU "expressed concern" yesterday over their "falling share price but remain buoyant over their 'very strong financial position.'" The club’s shares were trading on the NYSE yesterday "at $12.24 each, down from $14 at the flotation in August, thus valuing the club at about $2.05 billion." The flotation raised about $231M, "half of which went to the Glazer family, the owners, and half to pay off some of the club’s debt." Many felt the Glazers’ business model "was unworkable when they became owners in 2005." But Woodward "believes it has succeeded through the Americans’ understanding of how to exploit new markets." Annual commercial income "has risen from about" $80M million to nearly $191.2M "during their seven years in charge, and the club believe that there is enormous scope for further improvement." ManU has identified "almost 100 kinds of products with potential for sponsorship, many of them obscure." ManU motor scooters are "sold in Thailand, while a company in Japan is the club’s official marine diesel engine partner" (LONDON TIMES, 10/24).

JUST DO IT: The DAILY MAIL's Charles Sale notes ManU will be looking to negotiate "Nike's biggest-ever sponsorship deal when they begin renewal talks over Old Trafford kit supply in February." The 13-year Nike agreement with ManU that "expires in 2015 is worth [$483M], plus a profit share on retail sales." Woodward is "looking for a 'major increase' from Nike." Nike has a "six-month window of exclusive talks" with ManU and the club is "sure to remind Nike that shirt sponsorship has risen more than six fold in the same period." The deal could reach [$1.6B] if Nike "signs up for a similar length of time" (DAILYMAIL.co.uk, 10/24). 
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