David Prosser: The wrong time to float a football club

 

Outlook Manchester United's flotation in Singapore moved a step closer yesterday, with several sources suggesting the club has now filed an IPO application with the stock exchange there. To which all one can say is, best of luck with that.

Football folk aren't always renowned for their worldliness, but it presumably hasn't gone unnoticed at the club that global markets are just a tad volatile right now. Man United's chances of getting an IPO away before Christmas – thought to be the aim – look about as realistic as the pre-Champions League final promise that the team was good enough to compete with Barcelona.

Data published today by PricewaterhouseCoopers reveals that the market mayhem has already taken its toll on global IPOs. One in three new issues around the world has been pulled over the past fortnight, with companies reluctant to try their luck during such difficult times. Nor does PwC expect the outlook for the IPO market – depressed even before the latest turmoil – to improve during 2011.

There is much to commend the idea of selling off a stake in Man United, both from the perspective of the club and its owners, the Glazer family. But probably not this season.

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