The Premier League club's advisers are courting investors in the US as well as Europe and Asia as it tries to score a flotation in New York that would give it a market value of up to $3.3bn (£2.1bn). The most valuable club in sport – according to Forbes magazine, which estimated the Old Trafford side is worth $2.2bn – has found it harder than you would expect to find the back of the net with the US listing, the third float attempt by its owners, the American Glazer family. It has already pulled planned initial public offerings in Hong Kong and Singapore because of lack of demand.
The club is trying to sell 16.7m shares, at between $16 and $20 each, a 10% stake that at the top end of the range would raise up to $333m. The Glazers, who bought the club for £790m in 2005, had originally looked to raise as much as $1bn in Singapore. The club's share will be used to reduce its £423m debt burden to £345.4m, a decision that has disappointed fans, who had hoped to see it come down further. The club failed to win a trophy last season and supporters argue that it is being held back by its finances.
Analysts say the price tag attached to the club, which would still be controlled by the Glazers post-listing, is too high. The lack of listed sports teams makes it is difficult for investors to crunch the numbers and historic examples, such as The Boston Celtics and Cleveland Indians, did not fare well and have since been taken private. There are also bigger worries such as falling revenues and the absence of a dividend. With the pricing of the shares expected on Thursday, United's advisors will have to work hard to convince investors this is not a one-sided match that favours the Glazers.
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