Manchester United owners consider sale as Ronaldo exits

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MANCHESTER: Manchester United’s owners said Tuesday they were ready to sell the club after it was earlier confirmed star player Cristiano Ronaldo was leaving the Premier League giants.

Weeks of turbulence at Old Trafford appeared to have come to an end when the club announced Ronaldo was leaving with “immediate effect.”

That dramatic announcement was eclipsed just hours later by the news the US-based Glazer family, who have owned United for 17 years, could be on their way out as well.

“The board will consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the company,” United said in a statement.

The Glazers’ reign has been marked by declining on-field performance and repeated fan protests.

United have not won the Premier League title since 2013 in Alex Ferguson’s final season as manager.

Five managers have come and gone at Old Trafford in the past nine years without coming close to matching Ferguson’s success.

Portugal forward Ronaldo set the stage for his exit last week with his outspoken television interview on TalkTV in which he said he felt “betrayed” by the club and had no respect for new manager Erik ten Hag.

Ronaldo also took aim at the Glazers, claiming they “don’t care about the club.”

In an earlier statement, United said: “Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect.

“The club thanks him for his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford, scoring 145 goals in 346 appearances, and wishes him and his family well for the future.”

News of the Glazers inviting investment comes just weeks after Liverpool’s American owners the Fenway Sports Group indicated they were willing to sell.

Both United and Liverpool were involved in the failed European Super League (ESL) project that sought to create a US-style closed league format for Europe’s elite clubs without the need to qualify or promotion and relegation.

Amid a furious backlash to the ESL, a match between United and Liverpool was abandoned in May 2021 after supporters stormed the pitch at a time when fans were shut out of stadiums due to coronavirus restrictions.

Protests against the Glazers have continued to be common on matchdays at Old Trafford despite huge spending on player transfer fees and wages, including on Ronaldo’s homecoming.

In May, Chelsea were sold for £2.5 billion ($3 billion), a record for a football club, to another American consortium led by Todd Boehly, with a further investment of £1.75 billion promised on the playing squad and infrastructure.

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