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Ferguson key in Man U’s financial transformation
Soccer » Under Sir Alex, United has become one of top sporting franchises.

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At the moment, Everton manager David Moyes and Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho are rumored to be in the running for Ferguson’s job.

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There’s no doubt that Ferguson can take the credit for much of his club’s transformation on and off the pitch.

In 1986, when he became manager, Manchester United had gone a generation without winning a league title, its status largely resting on its history. Local and bitter rival Liverpool was pre-eminent — and seemingly untouchable.

Ferguson’s self-proclaimed task on his appointment was to knock Liverpool off its perch, an ambition he has easily achieved with the accumulation of 13 Premier League titles, a couple of Champion League victories and countless other trophies.

While change was afoot on the football field, the club was making moves on the financial front too.

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In 1991, shares in the club were listed on the London Stock Exchange, generating a cash windfall that helped Manchester United end its title drought two years later — a breakthrough that launched a period of dominance in English football that only Liverpool could match.

Success bred more success and by 1998, the club received a takeover bid from none other than Rupert Murdoch, whose BSkyB PLC broadcaster already had the television rights to screen live coverage of the increasingly lucrative Premier League. Although the Manchester United board accepted the 623 million pounds bid, the takeover attempt met with huge resistance from fans and was eventually ruled unlawful by British competition authorities in 1999.

Ferguson was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999, following the club’s unprecedented treble of success in the Champions League, the Premier League and the FA Cup.

A period of boardroom friction then ensued, which at times threatened Ferguson’s position as manager.

By 2003, the family of Malcolm Glazer, which owned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, started building up a stake in Manchester United as they attempted to reap the rewards that came from the club’s preeminence in English football and the skyrocketing revenues from television rights and sponsorship.

Within two years, the Glazers had built up a majority stake in Manchester United that eventually allowed them to take it out of public hands.

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