Potential Manchester United buyers are reportedly being put off by the astronomical cost of repairs needed at the club’s creaking Old Trafford ground.
Many fans have been unhappy with the Glazer family’s ownership and running of the club since they took over with a leveraged buyout 15 years ago.
United’s on-pitch fortunes have plummeted since Sir Alex Ferguson resigned as manager at the end of the 2012-13 season, increasing the ire of supporters.
Earlier this month, Mirror Football reported that Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman was prepared to pay around £3.5bn for United 18 months ago, but the Glazers insisted they were not open to offers.
Bin Salman’s name has since been at the forefront of a consortium bid led by business woman and financier Amanda Staveley to become the new owners of Newcastle United.
Even if the Glazers were prepared to sell up now, it would require an offer of £1billion to tempt them, according to the Daily Mail .
The publication reports that corporate financiers believe only 20 people in the world have a high enough net worth to enter the bidding, and that it would take the sovereign wealth of a Middle East state such as Saudi Arabia to buy the Americans out.
Another factor putting potential suitors off is the cost of repairs needed to the club’s Old Trafford home, with an estimated £200million required to bring it in line with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.
The Mail says United have privately acknowledged that the cost of developing Old Trafford’s South Stand is unviable.
And overhauling the stadium would be a huge logistical challenge requiring, for example, an extension over the adjacent railway line – which could see costs increase from the estimated £200m.
United would also need to find an alternative home while the renovation was being carried out.
Despite United’s status as one of the biggest and most well-supported clubs in world football, they appear to have fallen behind neighbours Manchester City in terms of attractiveness to investors.
The Mail says financiers believe it was significant that private equity giant Silver Lake invested £380m in City, rather than United, when they moved into the Premier League in November.