Mere hours after confirmation of Cristiano Ronaldo’s bombshell early exit from Old Trafford by mutual consent, a statement from the United board revealed they would mull over “all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions”.
A release via the club’s official website read: “Manchester United plc announces today that the company’s board of directors is commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club.
“The process is designed to enhance the club’s future growth, with the ultimate goal of positioning the club to capitalize on opportunities both on the pitch and commercially.”
United further added that Raine Group - who managed the sale of Chelsea this summer on behalf of Roman Abramovich - would serve as the club’s “exclusive financial advisor”.
“The strength of Manchester United rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers,” said United co-chairmen Avram and Joel Glazer. “As we seek to continue building on the Club’s history of success, the Board has authorized a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives.
“We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the Club today and in the future. Throughout this process we will remain fully focused on serving the best interests of our fans, shareholders, and various stakeholders.”
The prospect of a sale is sure to provide optimism for the swathes of United fans that have long since become disillusioned with the ownership of the Glazers, who have been in charge since a £790million leveraged buyout of the club back in 2005.
Protests against the Glazers have continued this season, with long-simmering resentment over the direction of the club reignited by last year’s European Super League fiasco.
“There can be no assurance that the review being undertaken will result in any transaction involving the company,” added United’s statement.
“Manchester United does not intend to make further announcements regarding the review unless and until the board has approved a specific transaction or other course of action requiring a formal announcement.”
Potential bidders for United remain to be seen, with Ineos founder and British bilionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe having previously harboured ambitions of buying a Premier League club - attempting to swoop for Chelsea at the 11th hour - and known to be a United fan.
However, the owner of Nice recently appeared to rule himself out of the running for a potential investment at Liverpool, with Fenway Sports Group (FSG) exploring a sale of the Anfield club.