The Glazer family are considering selling a minority stake in Manchester United, according to a club insider.
The owners have held some preliminary discussions about the possibility of bringing in a new investor, the insider said, asking not to be identified because the information is confidential.
The American Glazer family is not yet ready to cede control of Manchester United, which could be valued at about £5 billion ($6 billion), the people said. Discussions are ongoing and there’s no certainty the Glazers will decide to sell a stake in the club.
A representative for Manchester United and the Glazer family declined to comment.
If a stake does become available to buy the club is likely to attract a host of big-name investors, similar to Chelsea FC, which was recently sold to American billionaire Todd Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital in a £4.25 billion deal.
Such is the global reach of Manchester United that Elon Musk tweeted to say that he was buying the club earlier on Wednesday, before clarifying he was joking.
The late Malcolm Glazer bought the club in a 2005 leveraged buyout that saddled it with massive debts and the family has faced distrust from supporters ever since. While this was mitigated in the early years of their ownership as the team continued to win trophies under Sir Alex Ferguson, resentment has grown steadily since Ferguson's retirement. Since then, the club has cycled through managers and big-money players with only a handful of trophies to show for it.
More protests planned
A perceived lack of investment in Manchester United’s infrastructure, including its Carrington training ground and Old Trafford stadium, and frustration over poor recruitment strategy have compounded the ill will toward the Glazers. Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer are executive co-chairmen and directors at Manchester United, while family members Kevin Glazer, Bryan Glazer, Darcie Glazer Kassewitz and Edward Glazer all sit on the board.
Fan tensions have boiled over in recent weeks, with Manchester United losing the first two games of the new season, including a 4-0 drubbing by Brentford. At the opening home match of the new campaign - a 2-1 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion FC - a large group of devotees walked toward the stadium with banners that read: “Fight greed. Fight for United. Fight Glazers” and “We want our club back,”.
Supporters are planning to stage fresh protests at the team’s next home match, against arch rivals Liverpool on Monday. Liverpool won the corresponding fixture 5-0 last season and are the bookmakers’ favorite this time around.