Manchester United owners cash in on Ronaldo bounce

Cristiano Ronaldo is seen during Manchester United v Aston Villa at Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain, September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON, Oct 6 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has so far helped Manchester United’s (MANU.N) share price more than its on-field results. The $3 billion club’s equity value has risen 12% since the Portuguese striker signed in late August, a period in which the team has only won three in seven games. That’s not lost on the controlling Glazer family, two members of which are selling a combined $186 million worth of shares.

The sell-down is unlikely to appease fans, many of whom want the club to have a greater free float so that supporters can have more say. Instead, the clan is still firmly in control: its overall ownership will fall to 69% from 74.9%, and it will retain almost all the voting rights through special Class B stock. The Glazers merely seem to be taking a few chips off the table. Manchester United’s share price is now back in line with its pre-pandemic level, yet revenue won’t fully recover until 2023, according to Refinitiv data. The Glazer share sale looks well timed. (By Liam Proud)

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