LONDON/NEW YORK: Forbes has ranked Manchester United as the first sports club to break the $3bn valuation barrier.

The shares of the club offered to the public last August at $14 did poorly in the beginning but the price has soared up in the last few days touching at $17.

Only in November of last year did the Premier League club’s debts fall below £400m for the first time since the Glazer family took over in May 2005.

The Florida-based sports entrpreneurs borrowed £515m in completing the takeover of the club at £790m seven years ago and have been re-financing the debts since through public offerings or IPO and bonds in New York.

At the time of the IPO, serious concerns were raised around the prudence of this particular investment while media analysts and fans expressed concern about the damage inflicted on the club’s security by the leveraged takeover vehicle.

However, the US magazine considered the worth of Manchester United as a global brand and the increase in sponsorships secured since the Glazer takeover ranked it, at an initial value of $14 per share, as “one of the safest of financial bets in 2012.”

Forbes says that United’s stock has outperformed the S&P 500, which is basically a stock market index based on the market capitalizations of 500 leading publicly traded companies in the U.S. stock market.

The result has been to push up the club’s enterprise value to $3.3bn  (debts included), which is the highest value for any team in the world. NFL’s Dallas Cowboys are second most valuable team in the world, worth $2.1bn.

Last week Manchester United were listed third in the revenue-generation Deloitte Money League behind Real Madrid and Barcelona.


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