United owners face share backlash
Manchester United's owners suffered a fresh wave of criticism on Monday night after indicating only half the proceeds of their planned IPO will be used to reduce the club's massive debt.
Previously, the Glazer family had indicated they would use all the money to reduce United's borrowings, which presently stand at £437million. However, within the prospectus that was released through a New York Stock Exchange announcement of a planned sale, the Glazers have indicated only half the sum will be used.
It drew a stinging rebuke from fans, who took to Twitter to express their disgust - not that supporter sentiment has been a significant influence on the Glazer family's thinking. And, with shares set to be launched at between 16 US dollars and 20 US dollars, the Glazers, who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL franchise, hope to net around £150million in total.
"Manchester United today commenced its initial public offering of 16,666,667 Class A Ordinary Shares," said a statement issued from New York by Sard Verbinnen & Co on Monday night, the public relations firm enlisted by United for the IPO.
"Manchester United is offering 8,333,334 Class A Ordinary Shares and the selling shareholder is offering 8,333,333 Class A Ordinary Shares. The underwriters have an option to purchase up to an additional 2,500,000 Class A Ordinary Shares from the selling shareholder. The Class A Ordinary Shares will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and will trade under the symbol "MANU"."
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.
Some view them as mere custodians of United and, taking Sir Alex Ferguson's repeated assurances - the latest delivered less than a fortnight ago - treat them from a neutral perspective. More militant Red Devils fans have maintained an antagonistic stance, continually stressing how draining the Glazers' involvement has been to United's finances.
Once Monday's announcement has been fully digested, more may become clearer. And it is not yet known what the exact response in New York will be given the US can hardly be described as a soccer hotbed.
The news came on a day United confirmed a massive new shirt sponsorship deal with US car giant Chevrolet, which takes effect from 2014.
That deal will eventually swell the Red Devils' growing commercial income still further. However, critics will also point to the fact the club are yet to post end-of-year accounts which show the exact amount bowing out of the Champions League group stage cost them.
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