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Musk's tweet about buying Manchester United no joke for fed-up fans

Economy Aug 17, 2022 11:42AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk looks on as he visits the construction site of Tesla's gigafactory in Gruenheide, near Berlin, Germany, May 17, 2021. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi/ 2/2
 
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(Reuters) - Elon Musk, the world's richest person, briefly lifted the gloom over Manchester United's shares and fans on Wednesday by tweeting he was buying the English soccer club - only to say a little later it was all part of "a long-running joke".

One of the world's most successful soccer clubs, the "Red Devils" are languishing at the bottom of England's Premier League and, having seen eight coaches come and go in less than 10 years, some fans and investors are wondering whether it's time for the club's owners, the American Glazer family, to sell.

Enter the billionaire CEO of Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA).

"To be clear, I support the left half of the Republican Party and the right half of the Democratic Party! Also, I'm buying Manchester United ur (sic) welcome - Elon Musk," the 51-year-old tweeted to his 103 million followers.

Some of the club's fans had previously urged Musk on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) to consider buying the club, complaining at what they see as under-investment by the Glazers. United won the last of their record 20 English league titles back in 2013.

Within six hours, Musk's tweet had attracted more than 500,000 'likes' on the club's main Twitter account - though some users didn't take it too seriously, comparing the post with Musk's troubled run at buying Twitter.

But then came the clarification.

"No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I'm not buying any sports teams," Musk posted, when asked if he was serious.

"Although, if it were any team, it would be Man U," he added. "They were my fav (sic) team as a kid."

The Florida-based Glazers, Musk and his lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Manchester United declined to comment.

United fans were not impressed.

"It's just a tweet from somebody who not always thinking twice before write something (sic)," The Manchester United Fanatics Club Hungary said.

The Kolkata fans club added: "It again reinstated the fact that Elon and his tweets are just gimmicks. Although it would have been great if he really invested 1/10th of what he paid for Twitter to own this legendary club ... the entire fan base is sick and tired of the Glazers."

Even so, Musk's musings ignited trading in the company's U.S. listed shares ahead of the New York market open. They briefly jumped as much as 17%, before settling around $13.20, about 3% above Tuesday's closing price.

Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, didn't think Musk and United would be a perfect match.

"Elon Musk, and his expertise doesn’t necessarily add value to Manchester U, unless he aims to replace players by robots," she said.

IRREVERENT JOKESTER

The tweets are far from the first to land Musk in controversy.

The entrepreneur is currently seeking to exit a $44 billion agreement to buy Twitter only four months after announcing on the platform he would buy the social media company, which has taken him to court.

Musk has a history of being unconventional and irreverent, making it hard sometimes to tell when he is joking.

"Next I'm buying Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) to put the cocaine back in," he tweeted on April 27, two days after Twitter's board accepted his unsolicited offer to buy the company.

Musk's tweets about potential acquisitions have also landed him in hot water with U.S. regulators in the past.

In 2018, he tweeted there was "funding secured" for a $72 billion deal to take Tesla private, but did not make an offer. Musk and Tesla each paid $20 million civil fines - and Musk stepped down as Tesla's chairman - to resolve U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claims he defrauded investors.

The SEC declined to comment on Musk's latest tweets.

Musk's ambitions range from colonising Mars to creating a new sustainable energy economy, and in the process he has built the most valuable car company in the world in Tesla, rocket company SpaceX, and a slew of smaller firms. One is a tunnel maker called the Boring Company.

WIDESPREAD OPPOSITION

Clamour from fans for a change of ownership at United, the three-time winners of the European Cup, the most prestigious club competition in the global game, has been intensifying.

British newspaper The Daily Mirror reported last year the Glazers, who acquired the club in 2005 for 790 million pounds ($957 million), were prepared to sell, but only if offered over 4 billion pounds.

The Glazers have not given any indication of an interest in selling, however.

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, from the Manchester area and a long-standing fan, has been touted as a potential buyer. His spokesperson at chemical firm INEOS, where he is chairman, declined to comment.

There were also unconfirmed reports of Saudi interest in United before the country's PIF investment fund purchased another Premier League club, Newcastle United.

The Glazers rarely make public statements regarding their ownership of the club, but after fierce criticism for involvement in an aborted European Super League plan, Joel Glazer wrote an open letter to the club's fans in May 2021.

"I want to reassure you that my family and I care deeply about Manchester United and feel a profound sense of responsibility to protect and enhance its strength for the long-term, while respecting its values and traditions," he said.

Forbes this year rated United, with its huge global fanbase, the third most valuable soccer club in the world, worth $4.6 billion, behind only Spain's Real Madrid and Barcelona.

But the club's shares have slid a quarter in the past 12 months, valuing it at just over $2 billion.

(This story corrects to show Ipek Ozkardeskaya in para 16 is a woman)

Musk's tweet about buying Manchester United no joke for fed-up fans
 

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Comments (27)
Deborah Holloway
Deborah Holloway Aug 17, 2022 3:15PM ET
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Bored billionaire boy should find another hobby.
gab nea
gab nea Aug 17, 2022 1:19PM ET
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the SEC should look closer at his manipulative tweets!
gab nea
gab nea Aug 17, 2022 1:18PM ET
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this guy wants to always stick his nose in the news of the day! he must need to stay relevant. roflmao
Wamema Gerald
Wamema Gerald Aug 17, 2022 1:13PM ET
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that should be done, because the bets are *******me
Khairul Bakhtiar
Khairul Bakhtiar Aug 17, 2022 10:59AM ET
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Wow, he tweeted and the shares rose 17% just for a while....crazy sentiment...haha
me ish
me ish Aug 17, 2022 10:59AM ET
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Musk makes more money from playing the markets with tweets than he'll ever do as a business man - he's just a scammer and he knows like Trump, a couple of good trades just before a potent tweet is enough to move markets and make a packet - as usual, the SEC is nowhere to be seen.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 17, 2022 10:59AM ET
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me ish  You are right about Musk, wrong about the SEC: https://www.axios.com/2022/05/27/sec-investigating-elon-musks-twitter-disclosures
jamie
jamie Aug 17, 2022 9:40AM ET
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Is this guy has some mental illness? I don't know but probably he is.
me ish
me ish Aug 17, 2022 9:40AM ET
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definitely on the Spectrum - highly intelligent in some ways and socially inept in so many other ways.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Aug 17, 2022 9:40AM ET
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me ish  he maybe socially inept but he managed to father 7 kids with 5 women, so clearly something makes him attractive to women, I wonder what that could be???
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 17, 2022 9:40AM ET
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Tre Hsi His commitment to family?
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Aug 17, 2022 9:40AM ET
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Brad Albright  can't be that, one of his kids just renounced her Musk name......
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 17, 2022 9:34AM ET
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When asked if he was serious, Musk responded, "No, you wan:kers, I was smoking ****** and as I often do when I'm stoned, I took to Twitter to amuse myself by yanking people's chain." He added, "I'm hungry, I think I'll buy Taco Bell."
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Aug 17, 2022 9:34AM ET
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follow up by another tweet announcing the funding for the Taco Bell acquisition has been secured, and the day after one more tweet announcing the deal is off because the Taco Bell management refused to tell him the real name of the Taco Bell Chihuahua dog
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Aug 17, 2022 9:04AM ET
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apparently Musk, who portrait himself as a defender of free speech, writes article for a chinese magazine controlled by the chinese agency in charge of internet censorship....how's that for an ironic joke?
gab nea
gab nea Aug 17, 2022 8:06AM ET
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trump says he is joking too when he gets caught lying! musk is a liar too?
Michael Roal Casa
Michael Roal Casa Aug 17, 2022 7:49AM ET
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yes. so funny and like tRump using Twitter to manipulate a stock price or property to take advantage
 
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