The club’s IPO was priced at $14 (£9), which was below the $16 to $20 (£10-£13) per share the club’s owners were initially marketing to investors. The shares represent 10 per cent of the club, which it is hoped will raise enough funds to pay off debts.
In spite of the setback, Manchester United is now by far the world’s most valuable football club, ahead of Real Madrid, which is estimated to be worth $1.9bn (£1.2bn) according to Forbes magazine’s annual ranking. Its IPO also marks the biggest sports listing on record, ahead of the World Wrestling Federation’s $190m (£122m) debut in 1999.
Manchester United’s filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission said the club would be attractive to investors due to its “659 million”-strong global fanbase, which provides a worldwide platform to generate significant revenue from sponsorship, merchandising, licensing, new media and mobile, broadcasting and matchday.
It cited the fact that it has attracted leading companies for sponsorship such as Nike, Aon and DHL as measures of its success. Manchester United also signed Chevrolet as a main shirt sponsor for seven years, in a deal thought to be worth in the region of $600m (£385m).
The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST), which has long criticised the Glazer family’s ownership of the club, this month called on fans to boycott all Manchester United sponsors’ products in the hope of halting the IPO.
A spokesman for MUST said: “The boycott strategy is intended to send a loud and clear message to the Glazer family and club sponsors that without the support and purchasing power of the fans the global strength of the Manchester United brand doesn’t actually exist.”
Analysts have also been critical of the Manchester United IPO, predicting that shares are likely to fall after debut day. One analyst even dubbed the move “the son of Facebook”, referencing the social network’s current share price, which has dropped by more than a third since its IPO in May.