EPL club Manchester United has started the process for its NYSE listing and hopes "to raise" up to $383M (all figures U.S.) by selling a 10.2% stake in the club, according to James Ducker of the LONDON TIMES. A total of 16.7 million shares "will be offered and priced at between $16 and $20 per share." It values ManU at up to $3.6B, "making them the most valuable sports team in the world." However, club Owners the Glazers "drove another wedge between themselves and Manchester United supporters last night by reneging on their original plans to use all funds from a successful flotation in New York to reduce the club's exorbitant debt." The Glazers had stated in their preliminary filing earlier this month that they "intend to use all of our net proceeds from their offering to reduce our indebtedness." But it emerged last night that the owners "now plan to use only" $114.4M of any proceeds to reduce the debt, and "pocket a similar sum for themselves." If demand for the IPO "proves high, the Glazers could receive" up to $216.7M. Under the terms of the listing, the Glazers "will retain control of United through their ownership of Class B shares, which will have ten times the voting power of the stock sold to the public." ManU's IPO prospectus states that the club "will sell 8.3 million shares" and the Glazers also will "sell 8.3 million shares but will have the option to sell 2.5 million more if there is sufficient demand from investors" (LONDON TIMES, 7/31). ManU in a statement said that the club's Class A Ordinary Shares "will trade under the symbol 'MANU.'" In London, Simon Stone writes, "On an issue where even the use of the word 'MANU' can evoke bad feeling due to its alien nature amongst hard-core United fans, the Glazer family has already been a hugely divisive issue" (London INDEPENDENT, 7/31).
RISE AND FALL: The prospectus states that ManU's total club revenues "in the year to June 30 are expected to be down by as much as" 5%, at $493.5-501.4M. Much of that is "due to a reduction of as much as [$23.8M] in broadcasting income in the light of United's early exit from the Champions League." But commercial revenues "are up" by 13% to $183.3M thanks to "new sponsorship deals and a north American promotional tour." The prospectus states that the company "was incorporated in the Cayman Islands on April 30." It also "outlined the club's future commercial strategy -- including a 'regional sponsorship model' across the world and an expanded MUTV" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 7/30).
NHL Kings COO Chris McGowan said that on the heels of winning its first Stanley Cup, the team already has “sold an unprecedented number" of 15,000 season-tickets for the '12-13 season, according to Jill Painter of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. McGowan said, “We’re getting to a point where organizationally, it’s all about managing inventory. We’re getting slim in terms of availability. Season-ticket wise, we’re in a position where we’re going to stop selling season tickets because we’re going to be capped out.” He added that season tickets “likely will be available for up to two more weeks.” Individual tickets “likely will be available sometime in September.” McGowan: “We’re in unchartered waters. If we put tickets on sale, they sell right away. We’ve always done well, but we’ve never had this much demand.” Painter noted the Kings “should sell out the season,” joining '91-92 as the only seasons that has happened in franchise history. The Kings sold 12,000 season tickets last year after losing in the first-round of the playoffs. However, the team wants to “make sure they have some tickets available for those fans who have jumped on the bandwagon.” Demand is “so high, McGowan predicts the Kings will institute a waiting list this season for the first time.” McGowan: “The only other time I’ve seen demand like this was when the Galaxy (another AEG franchise) signed David Beckham. Tickets were selling left and right” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 7/28).
Pilot Travel Centers President & CEO and Steelers investor Jimmy Haslam III, who reportedly will purchase the Browns, is "seemingly universally well thought of, he's seen as a principle owner in waiting, and [Steelers Owner the Rooney family], of all NFL dignitaries, supports the move," according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSPORTS.com. The team's "perpetual struggles" under current Owner Randy Lerner "have taken a toll on this football-rabid market, and the league office would love to see the luster of the historic franchise return." Many around Browns HQs “can't help but wonder how drastically all areas of this building could change, and brace for yet another exodus of employees in everything from football operations to marketing.” League sources “continue to anticipate that Haslam will take over for Lerner before the start of the regular season, with the league possibly calling for a special vote on it by late August.” Within the Steelers front office, where Haslam “remains part of the ownership group, for now, it's seen as a relative fait acompli.” Sources said that Haslam also has received “glowing recommendations from the league on bringing in former Eagles team president Joe Banner in the same position.” And while the issue of Banner's precise equity stake “may still need to be resolved, many in the league office expect Banner to end up in Cleveland.” That would “spell the end of [Browns President Mike] Holmgren's regime, and by the end of the season another series of sweeping organizational changes would be afoot.” Sources said that the sale price "will be north of $900 million but less than $1 billion.” Browns GM Tom Heckert said, "This is probably going to happen, it's in the works" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/30).
FUTBOL OVER FOOTBALL? In Columbus, Michael Arace wrote Lerner "has always been willing to open his wallet (for good or ill), he is making sure the Browns remain in Cleveland after he severs ties and, although he has moved to New York, he will reportedly keep a 30 percent stake in the team.” The perception “has been that Lerner is more interested in his English Premier League soccer club, Aston Villa, and one is hard-pressed to dispel such a notion.” Arace: “This is a chance for smart men to give the Browns direction while also maintaining some continuity." Browns fans "ought to welcome the change” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 7/30). In Cleveland, Joel Hammond wrote, “Whatever the reason, Lerner must be in a hurry to get out. Why else throw things into such chaos when the team finally is approaching the stability it's long sought?" For that reason, "while Browns fans may be excited by Haslam's tenure, the new uncertainty surrounding the franchise is cause for concern.” All signs point to Lerner “being desperate to wrap up this process quickly” (CRAINSCLEVELAND.com, 7/30).
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has reined in the team's "social media usage after consulting with some of the veteran players,” and the Twitter ban “will last at least through training camp,” according to Joe Reedy of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. When asked if it would go beyond that, Lewis said, "I’ll let those guys decide as we go.” Bengals rookie CB Dre Kirkpatrick early last week “confirmed reports" on his Twitter feed of a fractured bone in his knee. But Lewis said that it has been “a series of events since April that has made him evaluate things.” Lewis: “I don’t see how tweeting is going to help us win a football game. So it’s part of being selfless right now” (CINCINNATI.com, 7/27). Bengals OT and NFLPA rep Andrew Whitworth said that he has “asked the players' union whether the ban is permitted under the collective bargaining agreement adopted last year.” Whitworth said, ''I've already checked into that, I'm waiting to hear back on that” (AP, 7/28). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said of the Twitter ban, “I don’t know if it’s fair, but it’s smart. But I’m not sure he can make it stick” (“PTI,” ESPN, 7/30).
Saints and Hornets Owner Tom Benson is “looking at the percentage of Saints season-ticket holders who also hold Hornets' season tickets to increase," and he hopes to "play a role in the round-ball push,” according to Peter Finney of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Benson said, "We've sold more than 72,000 season tickets for the 2012 season. We had a 99.8 percent renewal rate, the best in the NFL.'' He added, "Last season Hornets season ticket sales came to 10,000. Our goal for the 2012-13 season: 17,000. Can we do it? Watch." When the Hornets' schedule was announced, Benson “noted 13 of the 41 home games will be played on Saturday night.” He said, "I immediately thought of Champions Square, events we could stage involving those Saturday games, how we could market them, getting the tourist commission, even cruise-ship lines involved, mixing a basketball game with a weekend in New Orleans." Finney noted as far as the local economy, Benson “likes what he sees in automobiles and banks, two areas in which he has had experience.” Benson: “We've had banks, profitable ones, who have moved in and are doing well. The automobile business is doing fine. I'm getting word that two large restaurant chains are considering moving into the Champions Square area. The more I get around, the mood seems upbeat” (NOLA.com, 7/29).