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SBD Global/October 24, 2012/Franchises

ManU Will Open U.S. Office Hoping To Expand Global Appeal

Children gather to watch ManU performers outside the N.Y. Stock Exchange in August.
ManU is "hoping to break into the U.S. market" by opening an office on the East Coast to "maximize commercial opportunities in the U.S.," where the club is now listed on the N.Y. Stock Exchange, according to the AP. The location of the office is yet to be determined, but it would "replicate the operation" set up in London by U.S. Owner the Glazer family that has "turned United into one of world football's biggest moneymakers." ManU Vice Chair Ed Woodward said, "The U.S. we view as a really good opportunity. The U.S. media rights for soccer have rocketed." Woodward said that the U.S. office would be "the first such overseas office to be opened by a football club" (AP, 10/23).

TO SELL, OR NOT TO SELL: REUTERS' Keith Weir reported that the Glazer family has "no plans to sell" the club following flotation. Woodward said, "It's a very popular business that people have interest in. The answer is [it's] not for sale. The opportunities that we see going forward and the excitement that they have in this is undiminished. I don't see them (the Glazers) selling completely for many, many years" (REUTERS, 10/23). In London, Martyn Ziegler reported that Woodward "did accept, however, that one of the Glazers could dispose of their shares at some point." Woodward: "They could -- they are a family of six siblings and from time to time, seven to 10 years, who knows if one wants to sell a small piece or not" (INDEPENDENT, 10/23).

TRANSFER SPENDING: Also in London, Sam Wallace noted that Woodward said that ManU "did not miss out on signing the Brazilian midfielder Lucas Moura because of a lack of transfer funds," and the Glazer family "have never denied" Manager Alex Ferguson the resources to sign a player. ManU’s "relatively low impact in the transfer market in recent years" -- a trend which changed to a degree in the summer with the signing of Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa among others -- "has also raised suspicions that the servicing of the Glazers’ debts have restricted Ferguson in the transfer market." Woodward said: “The Glazers have never said ‘No’ to Sir Alex’s request for a player" (INDEPENDENT, 10/23).

INDIA TOUR IN WORKS: In London, Mark Ogden wrote that the Glazer family is "exploring options for the club to become the first Premier League team to tour India." 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 EPL Blackburn Rovers, owned by Indian poultry producers Venky’s, played a game in Pune, India last season, "no Premier League club has yet undertaken a tour of the country" (TELEGRAPH, 10/23).
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