Manchester United is estimated to be worth as much as $2.2 billion, but you can buy the team. So can I, actually. That’s because the world’s most valuable franchise is about to be a public team, listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The move comes as the team is apparently swimming in debt, as The Economist reports:
When Manchester City topped Manchester United on goal difference to win England’s Premiership title in May, it was a case of equity triumphing over debt. City, long the poorer and less successful soccer team, has soared since being bought in 2008 by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, and has been buying players as if money were free (which in the sheikh’s case it nearly is). United, by contrast, has found its ability to buy the best players constrained by debts of nearly $700m, nervous bankers and pending European “fair play” rules designed to ensure teams do not prosper by taking excessive financial risks.
The team seeks to raise $100 million in the offering, and at first blush it seems like a really good investment: Man U is insanely popular, consistently one of the best handful of teams in the world playing the world’s most popular sport, and they have Wayne Rooney and his non-hair. But in the US, where people care considerably less about soccer, the team might have trouble finding supporters for what’s not obviously a good investment anyway. It certainly won’t be like the Green Bay Packers’ recent decision to go public — when that happened, you couldn’t buy shares of the beloved team if you wanted to, but getting a piece of Man U shouldn’t be too hard.
So yes, you can buy shares of Manchester United (just don’t buy Class A shares, which come with less voting rights, so you probably don’t get a say in whether Fabio gets any more playing time), but it may not be a good decision. Plus, tickets get you a lot more fun.