Having seen eight managers come and go in less than 10 years, Manchester United fans know their false dawns. Wednesday shed a different light on the conflicts at the giant soccer club: Elon Musk he said he was buying it — and so he said it was all a joke.
Musk, the world’s richest person, said Wednesday morning that he wasn’t serious when he tweeted hours earlier that he was buying Manchester United Plc, which now languishes at the foot of the English Premier League as fed-up fans urge current. owners, the American Glazer family to sell.
“No, this is a long running joke on Twitter. I’m not buying any sports equipment,” Musk posted when asked by a user if he was serious about buying the club when he posted: “I’m buying Manchester United.” . ur (sic) welcome.”
“Though, if it was any team, it would be Man U,” he added, adding salt to the wound for some: “They were my favorite team growing up.”
Some Manchester United fans had previously urged Musk on Twitter to consider buying the club, complaining of what they see as an underinvestment in one of the world’s biggest soccer clubs. United have not won the English league title since the days when legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson achieved the last of his record 20 wins in 2013, despite the efforts of a cast of eight permanent and temporary managers since then. .
In early reactions before Musk said he was just kidding, some users mockingly compared his tweet to his troublesome Twitter purchase, or seemed to consider it just a joke.
The northern England-based team has more than 32 million followers on its main Twitter account and Musk’s first tweet about the club garnered more than 500,000 likes on the platform in six hours.
After Musk said he was joking, the Hungarian Manchester United Fans Club said: “It’s just a tweet from someone who doesn’t always think twice before writing something (sic).”
Manchester United Fans Club Kolkata said: “He re-affirmed the fact that Elon and his tweets are just tricks. Although it would have been great if he actually invested 1/10 of what he paid for Twitter to own this legendary club… The entire fan base is sick and tired of the Glazers.”
In initial trading of the Frankfurt-listed club’s shares, shares rose 2.5 percent.
Musk is now seeking to get out of a $44bn deal to buy Twitter just four months after announcing on the platform that he would buy the social media company, which landed him in court.
He has a history of being offbeat and irreverent tweeting, sometimes making it hard to tell when he’s joking.
“Then I’m going to buy Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back,” he tweeted on April 27, two days after Twitter’s board accepted his unsolicited offer to buy the company.
Referring to that post, he tweeted on Wednesday: “And I’m not buying Coke to put cocaine back in, despite the extreme popularity of such a move.”
Musk’s tweets about possible acquisitions have landed him in trouble with US regulators in the past.
In 2018, he tweeted that there were “funds secured” for a $72bn deal to take Tesla private, but he did not follow through with an offer. Musk and Tesla each paid civil penalties of $20 million, with Musk resigning as chairman of Tesla, to resolve claims by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that Musk defrauded investors.
The SEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s tweet that he was buying the club outside of regular business hours.
Musk’s ambitions range from colonizing Mars to creating a new sustainable energy economy, and in the process he has built the world’s most valuable car company, electric vehicle maker Tesla, rocket company SpaceX, and a large rocket company. number of smaller companies. One is a tunnel manufacturer called the Boring Company.
The clamor from fans and pundits for a change of ownership in the three-time European Cup winners, the most prestigious club competition in global gaming, has intensified.
Britain’s The Daily Mirror newspaper reported last year that the Glazers, who have faced widespread fan opposition to their management since they acquired the club in 2005 for 790 million pounds ($957 million), were prepared to sell, but only if they were offered more than 4 billion pounds.
In its annual ranking this year, Forbes ranked Manchester United, with its massive global fan base, as the third most valuable soccer club in the world, worth $4.6 billion, behind only Spanish giants Real Madrid. and Barcelona.
But shares of the New York-listed soccer club have fallen by a quarter in the last 12 months, valued at just over $2 billion. The stock rallied in the past month, gaining 16 percent to close at $12.78 on Tuesday.
Musk and his lawyer did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on his original Twitter post before his message that he had been joking.
The Florida-based Glazer family did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and Manchester United itself declined to comment.
(Reporting by Juby Babu in Bengaluru and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco; Writing by Peter Henderson, Michael Perry, and Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Aditya Soni, Neil Fullick, and Kenneth Maxwell)