Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, say they are considering selling the club as they “explore strategic alternatives”.
It comes after years of fan protests against their ownership.
A club statement said the board “will consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment in the club, sale or other transactions involving the company”.
It added that the process “will include the assessment of several initiatives to strengthen the club, including the redevelopment of the stadium and infrastructure, and the expansion of the club’s commercial operations globally” to improve “the long-term success of the club’s men’s, women’s and academy teams and bring benefits fans and other stakeholders”.
In 2012, The Glazers sold 10% of their stake through the stock quotation and sold further shares in the following years.
“As we seek to continue to build on the club’s history of success, the board has approved a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives,” said executive co-chairmen and directors Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer.
“We will assess all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United make the most of the significant growth opportunities the club has today and into the future.
“Throughout this process, we will remain fully focused on serving the best interests of our fans, shareholders and various stakeholders.”
The Glazer family has owned the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers since 1995, and Avram Glazer bought the team in the new United Arab Emirates Twenty20 cricket league in 2021.
Joel and Avram took over the day-to-day running of United after their father Malcolm suffered a stroke in April 2006. Billionaire Malcolm died aged 85 in 2014.
American investment company Raine Group, who led Chelsea’s £4.25 billion sale in May, acts as United’s exclusive financial advisor.
Announcement from the club added: “There can be no assurance that the review being conducted will result in any transaction involving the Company.
“Manchester United does not intend to make any further announcements in relation to the audit unless and until the board of directors approves a specific transaction or other course of action requiring formal disclosure.”
United, who are fifth in the Premier League, have not won the title since 2013 and have not won a trophy since winning the Europa League and EFL Cup in 2017.
In recent years, there have been several protests against the Glazers’ property, including one in May 2021 which is why United’s home league game against Liverpool was postponed.
Thousands of fans marched on Old Trafford in protest before the same game this season in August.
United were part of a failed European Super League project that quickly collapsed in April 2021. Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer he later apologized for caused riots.
He has since frequented Fan Forums following fan unrest and promised to make stock available to fans.
According to Transfermarkt, United have a net spend of €1.36bn (£1.18bn) under the Glazers.
Portuguese captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who left Manchester United on Tuesday, criticized the ownership of the club in a controversial interview last week saying that the Glazer family “doesn’t care about the club” on the sporting side.
The move to sell United comes amid words from Liverpool chairman Tom Werner Fenway Sports Group “explored sale” of the club from Anfield.
Bloomberg report said in August 2022 that the Glazer family was willing to sell a minority stake in the club.
British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe said he would be interested in the purchase of the club before he stated October that the Glazer family told him they did not want to sell.
‘If the Glazers leave, most fans would welcome it – analysis
BBC Sport football reporter Simon Stone
There was never any dispute that the Glazers saw Manchester United as a financial investment.
To a greater or lesser extent – co-chairmen Joel and Avram have invested the most – they are interested in the football side, but the main goal is to make money, which they have succeeded in doing.
To that end, several issues have conspired to make the Glazers think now is a good time to test the waters with regards to the exit.
First, the European Super League plan was destroyed. While Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid are adamant that they will get approval through the courts, in its original form, it is over – and with it the wealth that would come from it.
Then, Saudi Arabia’s support for Newcastle creates more competition within the Premier League and, ultimately, Europe.
Added to the massive investment required to redevelop Old Trafford – and improvements to the club’s Carrington training ground – running a competitive United will, in the short term, be very expensive.
To that end, Chelsea for the £4.25 billion he was sold for in the summer is starting to look very attractive.
The Glazers have not been popular owners since the day they bought United in 2005.
If they leave, most fans would welcome it. However, given the likely selling price, their dream of ownership may be unrealistic.
Even if childhood fan Sir Jim Ratcliffe follows through on his summer plan to try to buy the club, he is unlikely to be the only interested party. In the short term, the future at Old Trafford could bring even more uncertainty.