Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, will make the first move towards creating a global Manchester United sports empire this summer, with the acquisition of at least one, and perhaps three, overseas clubs. Reports in Florida overnight suggest that the Glazer family is deep in negotiations with clubs in Japan, Brazil and the United States about multi-million dollar acquisitions of up to three clubs.
In keeping with Manchester City’s franchise strategy, the Glazers are looking to acquire clubs that will both take on the United ‘brand’ and provide a potential proving ground for players and coaches. City’s owners, the Abu Dhabi Royal Family, also owns or part-owns Melbourne City, New York City and Yokohama F. Marinos via the City Football Group Holding Company.
It is believed that negotiations with Japanese J1 League side Vissel Kobe, MLS outfit New England Revolution and Brazilian giants Internacional are at a highly advanced stage, with fixers Charlie Stillitano and Jorge Mendes deeply involved in closing the deals. An announcement is likely to take place before the season closes, according to the Tampa Bay Times – the Glazer family’s local paper – one that will have implications across world football.
The Times’ story notes that acquired teams will be required to take on United’s colours and Adidas sponsorship, with alterations to club logos and team names in keeping with the global Manchester United brand. Newly rebranded Vissel Kobe United, New England United and Internationalted will take place in next season’s Japanese, US and Brazilian competitions.
“The Glazers are absolutely serious about this,” US-based football analyst Olaf Priol notes in the Times’ story. “Through their ownership of multiple sports franchises, and other franchise businesses in retail across the US, they feel that United is a gold-mine to be further tapped. If the acquisitions come off this summer, the United brand will take on a global dimension.”
The Glazer family issued a denial late on Friday, UK-time, although Tampa-based reporter Rick Stroud stood by his story in an updated revision. “This is no joke,” he added.