The business side of international soccer has seen several significant storylines over the past few months and years. Most notable among these was the temporary announcement of a European Super League, followed by most of the clubs involved withdrawing from the project.
One of the most important Premier League storylines to emerge over the past few weeks is that Liverpool and Manchester United, two of the most important teams in England, could potentially change ownership in the near future.
Liverpool and Manchester United Could Change Ownership
Liverpool and Manchester United are both currently owned by ownership groups located in the United States. Fenway Sports Group, which also owns the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Penguins, has owned Liverpool since 2010. The Glazer family, which also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has owned Manchester United since 2005.
Both ownership groups have dealt with controversy during their times as owners of their respective clubs. The Glazer family was immediately unpopular with Manchester United fans as soon as they took ownership of the club, while Fenway Sports Group has had a more positive relationship with the Liverpool fanbase, but has dealt with increased controversy following the failure of the European Super League.
The Glazer family’s relationship with Manchester United fans has never been positive due to the way in which they became the owners of the club. Manchester United is a publicly-traded company and was already publicly traded at the time the Glazer family first began to have an interest in owning the club.
In 2003, the family began buying shares of Manchester United through a holding company, and during the next two years, the Glazer family’s share of ownership steadily increased. By the end of June 2005, the family-owned Manchester United at a purchase price of about $1.5 billion.
As a result of the Glazer family’s purchase of the team, Manchester United finished the process with a significant amount of debt. Throughout the family’s ownership of the team, the debt has increased, which has been a constant concern to the team’s fanbase.
Throughout the Glazer family’s ownership of Manchester United fans have protested frequently. Protests began in 2005, and after the European Super League controversy, Manchester United was forced to postpone a match against Liverpool due to a large, organized fan protest.
During Fenway Sports Group’s time in charge of Liverpool, the club won the Premier League title for the first time, their first league title since 1990, and won the 2018-19 Champions League.
As a result, the fanbase’s opinion of the ownership group is likely more positive than how many Manchester United fans view the Glazer family. In addition, Fenway Sports Group also began renovating Anfield over the past few years to improve and expand the stadium.
Fenway Sports Group’s ownership of Liverpool has undoubtedly resulted in positives for the club. However, they have been criticized by the fans recently due to the European Super League controversy and for a lack of investment in the transfer market, especially considering the substantial success Jurgen Klopp has had during his tenure as manager.
Moving forward, the potential change in ownership of both of these teams will be one of the most important storylines in the Premier League. They are arguably the two most important and historic clubs in England, and an ownership change could have a dramatic effect on the future of both clubs.
Possible Reasons Why Fenway Sports Group and the Glazer Family Are Considering Selling
Both Fenway Sports Group and the Glazer family have described the current situation as trying to find new investment. As a result, both of them have not guaranteed a sale of their clubs, but rather described it as a possibility along with other options.
However, both groups now have a public interest in a sale, which means it is a significant possibility. The first, and most obvious potential reason, for interest in a sale is likely due to the failure of the European Super League project.
The ESL was meant to provide increased financial strength and security to its member clubs. It would have been a major financial boost for both the Glazer family and Fenway Sports Group. However, it was extremely unpopular among fans, the media, and governing bodies, and its failure caused a massive public relations crisis, which is still ongoing, for the ownership of the clubs involved.
In addition, both teams’ stadiums need investment. Liverpool and Fenway Sports Group have already begun this process, while Manchester United and the Glazer family have discussed the possibility of renovating Old Trafford in recent years, but have not made significant progress toward beginning construction.
In the case of Manchester United, the club’s training facilities also need significant investment and expansion, which would require a further financial commitment.
As a result of these reasons and others, both ownership groups think now could potentially be a good time for a sale. Sports franchises have consistently grown in value recently, and as the global economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, more interest could be generated among potential investors.
Over the next few months, one or both of Liverpool and Manchester United could change ownership, or one or both could receive new investment but retain their current owners. No matter what, the decisions made over the next few months will have a dramatic impact on the future of the sport in England and Europe.