Eight million shares will be up for grabs in a move that looks to capitalise "at a time of renewed confidence at the club," per Rob Harris of The Associated Press and via the Daily Mail. The announcement came on Wednesday, which saw United shares close at £11.42 (latest price here), and just two months after the passing of Malcolm Glazer, who led the 2005 takeover of the club.
United's prospectus underlined the need to sell at the right time, per Harris:
Our success and many achievements over the last 20 years does not necessarily mean that we will continue to be successful in the future, whether as a result of changes in player personnel, coaching staff or otherwise
A downturn in the performance of our first team could adversely affect our ability to attract and retain coaches and players.
Malcolm Glazer's six adult children now have control of around 85 percent the club and have decided to repeat their father's move from 2012. As noted by David Conn of The Guardian, a similar statement was also released two summers ago when shares were first floated on the NYSE.
United fans will hope a portion of the "hundreds of millions of pounds of debt" can be attacked with the funds raised, per BBC News reporter Matthew West. The club will need to do without the £29.5 million, £34 million and £51 million earned across the last three Champions League campaigns after David Moyes failed to secure a place in Europe's elite competition for next season.
Although this number has dwindled year after year, it's a key source of revenue and exposure. United have instead worked hard to ensure the club is in a strong sponsorship position.
General Motors are set to hand the club $559 million (approximately £330.4 million) over seven years, a record deal which currently takes hold of United's 2014-15 kits with the Chevrolet logo being emblazoned on shirts, noted by West.
Another record-breaking deal will see Adidas become the kit manufacture at the onset of the 2015-16 season, offering the club £750 million across the next decade if relative success is achieved. United have confirmed a failure to qualify for next season's Champions League will see the payment drop from £75 million to £52.5 million per year, while it will increase £4 million each campaign if a trophy is won, per Harris.
Duncan Drasdo of the Manchester United Supporters Trust offers his worrying take on the situation:
The Glazers' inability to invest in key signings over the past decade, as well as their willingness to cripple United with debt upon their takeover, has seen the club rapidly crumble in recent times. New players have been needed in defence, midfield and on the wings for quite some time, but any movement has taken an age and seen United miss out on some major targets.
While Robin van Persie can be considered a leaving present for Sir Alex Ferguson, it is only upon the club's demise that significant money has been mobilised. The £27.5 million acquisition of Marouane Fellaini indicates the risk involved—such is the spectacular nature of the Belgian's Old Trafford failure.
Juan Mata's £37.1 million move from Chelsea could turn out to be a shrewd piece of business from Moyes, who will now look on as Louis van Gaal looks to pick up the pieces at the club. Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw have arrived for £28 million and £27 million, respectively, this summer, suggesting a rebuild could be on the way.
Van Gaal will be hoping funds are mobilised for new defenders after the exits of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra. Speaking after the club's International Champions Cup penalty win over Inter Milan, the Dutchman confirmed his interest in further strengthening, per Sky Sports:
I am looking at the defenders we have first. And, when you see our three (preseason) matches, we are doing well, I think. But it is right that we are looking for defenders, because a lot of defenders have gone. We have to replace them but I also like Michael Keane and Tyler Blackett.
The squad is currently a long way short of where it needs to be if Champions League football is to be gained. Van Gaal's switch to a 3-5-2 formation aims to make the most out of the squad's limitations and will expose those who aren't up to the task.
On-pitch performances certainly correlate with what is happening behind the scenes. United's inability to compete is a direct result of faltering investment, ensuring the club faces an uphill battle when trying to challenge the oligarchs of Chelsea and Manchester City.
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