Manchester United’s owners announced on Tuesday that they are ready to sell the club, potentially bringing an end to an acrimonious 17-year tenure under the Glazer family.
On a turbulent day for the English club, it was previously revealed that star player Cristiano Ronaldo has left the club with “immediate effect.”
Weeks of turmoil appeared to have come to an end when United announced that Ronaldo’s contract had been terminated by mutual agreement, bringing his second stint at Old Trafford to an end.
That dramatic announcement was quickly overshadowed by the news that the Glazer family, based in the United States, may also be on their way out.
United said in a statement that “the board will consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the company.”
Since a £790 million ($934 million) leveraged takeover of the club in 2005, the Glazers have been unpopular with supporters.
Frustration with the Americans has only grown over the course of a nine-year decline in results since Alex Ferguson’s retirement as manager in 2013.
United have not won the Premier League title since Ferguson’s final season in 2012/2013, and they have not won any trophy since 2017.
United is currently fifth in the Premier League, 11 points behind league leaders Arsenal.
“We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United capitalizes on the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future,” said the club’s executive co-chairmen and directors, Avram and Joel Glazer.
The statement also acknowledged the need for stadium redevelopment investment.
With a capacity of 74,000, Old Trafford remains England’s largest club stadium, but it has not been significantly upgraded since 2006.
Erik ten Hag is Manchester United’s fifth permanent manager in the last nine years, and his first months in charge have been dominated by debate over Ronaldo’s place in the team.
The former Ajax manager had used the five-time Ballon d’Or winner sparingly in the Premier League.
Ronaldo reacted angrily in an interview with TalkTV last week, saying he felt “betrayed” by the club and had no respect for Ten Hag.
The Portugal captain, who is in his fifth World Cup, also took aim at the Glazers, claiming they “don’t care about the club.”
“Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to leave Manchester United with immediate effect,” United said in an earlier statement.
“The club thanks him for his enormous contribution over two spells at Old Trafford, scoring 145 goals in 346 appearances, and wishes him and his family the best of luck in the future.”
The Glazers’ invitation to invest comes just weeks after Liverpool’s American owners, the Fenway Sports Group, indicated a willingness to sell.
United and Liverpool were both involved in the failed European Super League (ESL) project, which aimed to create a US-style closed league format for Europe’s elite clubs, without the need for qualification or promotion and relegation.
A match between United and Liverpool was abandoned in May 2021 amid a furious backlash to the ESL after supporters stormed the pitch at a time when fans were barred from stadiums due to coronavirus restrictions.
Despite huge spending on player transfer fees and wages, including on Ronaldo’s homecoming, protests against the Glazers have remained common on matchdays at Old Trafford.
In May, Premier League rivals Chelsea were sold for a record-breaking £2.5 billion ($3 billion) to an American consortium led by Todd Boehly, with a further £1.75 billion promised for the playing squad and infrastructure.