US Firm Baron Capital Buys a Quarter of Manchester United Shares

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  General View prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford on February 9, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

American investment group Baron Capital have bought 25 percent of all Manchester United shares available on the New York Stock Exchange.

As reported by Sky Sports, this represents 2.5 percent of the club and keeps the Glazer family in control with a 90 percent stake in the Premier League outfit:

Analysts believe the accumulation of shares reflects the firm viewing United as a good long-term investment, rather than Baron Capital making any bid to secure a controlling interest in the club.

The Glazer family only released 10 per cent of the club on to the stock market - they still retain 90 per cent and control the vast majority of votes.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22:  David Moyes the Manchester United manager looks on prior to kickoff during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park on February 22, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Despite a dwindling league position and lack of prospects for the remainder of the season, United's share price finished the day at $15.84 on Monday, March 10, "the highest level since November," according to Sky Sports' report.

The Red Devils are seen as a profitable long-term investment, and share prices are thought to have risen due to an impending sponsorship deal with Nike.

United are on the brink of signing a world-record £600 million contract with the sportswear company, trebling the income earned through their current agreement, per Simon Mullock of the Mirror:

It will bank United more than £60million-a-year over the course of a decade-long agreement.

That is almost double the current best kit manufacturing deal, which sees Real Madrid earn £31million from their arrangement with adidas.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United warms up with Tom Cleverley (L) and Adnan Januzaj (R) prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Cardiff City at Old Trafford on January 28, 2014 in Manches
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Such prospects have helped Baron Capital along their way to 9,581,636 shares, which are currently worth £90 million, according to Sky Sports.

Fans looking for any such organisation to oust the Glazers away from control will be disappointed. Football finance expert Andy Green suggested it isn't possible for anybody to gain such influence due to the lack of shares up for sale, noted by Sky Sports"This is absolutely not the start of any takeover. You could buy all the shares available on the stock market and you would still only have 10 per cent of the club and about 1.3 per cent of the votes."

Once prospective United buyer, Fred Done—famous for his chain of Betfred betting shops—recently criticised the Glazers for prioritising a return on their investment over the club's future success.

He compared United to their Manchester City neighbours and suggested the team needs a passionate billionaire investor, per Mike Keegan of the Manchester Evening News"Sheikh Mansour does not care about a return on his money. He has done fantastic for City and for the city of Manchester. The Glazers want dividends."

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND-AUGUST 9 : (L to R) Joel Glazer, Avram Glazer and Bryan Glazer, sons of owner Malcolm Glazer, are seen before the Champions League third qualifying round, first leg match between Manchester United and Debreceni VSC at Old Trafford on A
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Although many fans would agree with this notion, it's positive news that United can drum up financial interest during a slump of results. Such commitment wasn't guaranteed when Sir Alex Ferguson stepped aside, and it reconfirms confidence in the new hierarchy to deliver success.

Perhaps most importantly, the rumoured deal with Nike will also help the club make up for its likely absence from next season's Champions League. Money for players is likely to be acquired through this type of sponsorship, helping the club progress beyond a tough year on the pitch.