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A battle for control at Manchester United

The soap opera that is Manchester United - serialized daily in the papers of England - has attracted the attention of The New York Times. Alan Cowell's story, "A Horse, a Soccer Club and the Tampa Bay Bucs," lays out the important facts, which involve takeover rumors and rifts between major shareholders and manager Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson’s talents as a manager are well known. But there are suspicions that some of the club’s recent transactions have been managed to line the pockets of Ferguson and his son, an agent who gets a cut of transfer deals. The trust between Ferguson and shareholder John Magnier, who once gave him a 50% interest in the sensational racehorse Rock of Gibraltar, has been shattered.

The takeover rumors - which involve Tampa Bay Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer -have doubled the market capitalization of the club to $1.3 billion. This for a firm that earned $73 million on revenue of $323 million last year. Glazer might just want another toy. But the high valuation of Man Utd might also be a signal that plans for a European “Super League” might be more than a pipe dream.

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