Manchester United part owner Avram Glazer fails in bid for NWSL club Angel City

Avram Glazer, a part owner of Manchester United and a member of the Glazer family who retain a majority stake in the club, has failed in a bid to become the controlling shareholder of NWSL side Angel City.

Sources familiar with the discussions, who would not speak publicly owing to the sensitivity of the talks, confirmed that Glazer had pursued a stake in Angel City.

He has missed out, however, to the Disney CEO Bob Iger and his wife Willow Bay, who are now close to purchasing control of Angel City FC. Semafor first reported news of Glazer’s interest.

Glazer had recently profited after the six Glazer siblings diluted their shareholding equally when they sanctioned the sale of 25 per cent of the club to Sir Jim Ratcliffe over the past year. A filing with the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) confirmed they each sold approximately 4.6 million Class B share and at a trading price of $33 per share, that amounted to $909million in total — or around $152m in each of the Glazer’s pockets.

The Glazers are already the owners of the NFL franchise the Tampa Bay Bucaneers while Avram Glazer also owns the Desert Vipers, a franchise in the International League T20 competition in the United Arab Emirates.

Moelis, the investment bank, were hired to find a controlling investor and market the team to prospective investors. They declined to comment when approached by The Athletic.

The current valuation of Angel City is estimated at $250m, and Iger and Bay would invest more than $50m to take control of ACFC from Alexis Ohanian, the team’s largest shareholder. Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit and Serena Williams’ husband, does not control the board.



Iger and Bay close to purchasing control of ACFC

The club has three co-founding partners — Kara Nortman, Natalie Portman and Julie Uhrman — and dozens of smaller investors, including celebrities like Williams, Billie Jean King, Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria and former USWNT stars Mia Hamm, Shannon Boxx and Julie Foudy.

United have previously received substantial criticism for their management of their own women’s team. The Glazer family did not even have a women’s team at the club between 2005 and 2018 but this attempted investment by Avram Glazer, acting in an independent capacity, may indicate that at least one member of United’s ownership sees the potential for growth within women’s football.

Since the team relaunched, it has emerged as one of the stronger sides in the Women’s Super League, reaching the FA Cup final in the last two seasons and winning the trophy in May.

United's women's side won their first ever FA Cup in May (Visionhaus/Getty Images)

United’s women’s side won their first ever FA Cup in May (Visionhaus/Getty Images)

However, it has also been beset by issues. In the summer of 2021, the squad approached the Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA) to seek support in improving facilities and the seriousness of the club’s approach towards its female team.

At that time, the team were considering a strike. Players had to fight for acceptable accommodation and housing, even asking senior United personnel whether they would be prepared to house their own relatives in the accommodation being used.

Players also remained exasperated by the quality of facilities at the club’s Carrington training ground, where they changed in portacabins in the car park, while the pitch used by the women’s team suffered severe drainage issues.

Since then, the team has been paid better and managed better and the club recently opened an £11m building at the Carrington training facility to be used by the women’s team and academy.

The Glazers have since essentially outsourced control of the club’s football and business operations to INEOS.

Last week United received criticism after a decision to make the women’s team return to portacabins this coming season because INEOS are pushing through a £50m development of the training facility, which will mean the men’s first team building is out of action. As such, the men have moved into the women’s building and the women will use portacabins.



Man Utd women’s team asked to use ‘portacabins’ due to work at Carrington

(Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

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