(Bloomberg) -- The chance to invest in one of the major brands in world football has emerged with the Glazer family considering the sale of a minority stake in the English club Manchester United FC. Private equity firm Apollo Global Management Inc. and UK businessman Jim Ratcliffe have already expressed interest after Bloomberg News first reported that the American owners were willing to bring in an investor. Here are five questions around the potential arrival of new money.  

1. Why might the Glazers be looking to sell a stake now?

The Glazers have never been so unpopular among fans. The club is struggling to perform on the pitch, despite having invested heavily in star players and top managers, and its key infrastructure -- including the famous Old Trafford stadium -- is in need of upgrading. Manchester United suffered embarrassing defeats in its first two games of the English Premier League season, and was tipped to lose its third on Aug. 22 against high-flying arch rivals Liverpool FC. At the same time, private equity funds and high-net-worth individuals, mainly from the US (where the sport is called soccer), have been flocking to European teams, which are valued on much lower revenue multiples than their US equivalents. 

2. Are minority investors common in football?

There are several examples of minority holders in European football. These include Silver Lake at City Football Group, the owners of EPL champions Manchester City FC, and Orkila Capital at the Belgian team Club Brugge. Occasionally, individual investors take stakes, such as the American John Textor at Crystal Palace FC, or the Reuben brothers at Newcastle United FC. Textor has said his investment carries with it an equal share of control with the team’s three other owners. Minority investors tend to negotiate an element of control, whether it be via a board seat or two, or through a veto over major expenditure. The Glazers own 97% of the voting stock in Manchester United.

3. Could Manchester United be bought outright?

Money always talks, especially in professional sports. And such is the current appetite for exposure to European football -- with its lucrative cash flow from broadcast rights -- that investor groups may start to test the Glazers’ resolve to keep hold of the team. EPL rival Chelsea FC sold in a £4.25 billion ($5.1 billion) takeover this year in what was one of world sport’s biggest and most fiercely contested deals. Manchester United would likely command a much higher price. Ineos Group Holdings SA founder Ratcliffe was among those who bid for Chelsea -- albeit late in the process -- and he remains interested in acquiring an English football team. He’s also a Manchester United fan.

4. What are the Manchester United fans saying?

One of the chief complaints about the Glazers has been a perceived lack of engagement with the club. So it’s unlikely they’d be too quick to welcome another distant investor operating behind the scenes. Many would prefer the Glazers to leave the club fully, as evidenced by the protest planned during the upcoming home game against Liverpool. One fan group, the Manchester United Supporters Trust, has outlined what it expects from a new backer: “This has to be the right change. Any prospective new owner has to be committed to the culture, ethos and best traditions of the club,” the group said in a statement Thursday. “Any new ownership structure must embed supporters, including a degree of fan share ownership, in their operating model.” There’s already been negative fan reaction to Apollo’s interest on social media. 

5. Is it a bet on the return of a Super League?

The Glazers did themselves no favors with Manchester United supporters last year when they backed a breakaway Super League in Europe. The plan was quickly dropped amid the backlash from fans and politicians, who said it went against tradition by guaranteeing a small group of top clubs a place in a new, lucrative competition. But the rationale for owners was clear: increased broadcast revenue tied to elite European competition; EPL revenue is expected break the £6 billion mark for the first time, driven by media rights. For the EPL’s US owners in particular, this arrangement would have more closely mirrored the framework for professional sports back home. The Super League would also have given the clubs involved the chance to sell live broadcast rights for some games to fans directly, as opposed to as a collective. That would be a potential boon for Manchester United, one of the world’s best-supported clubs. As the influence of Americans in English football grows, some believe another Super League-style plan will emerge. If such a model were ever adopted, it would further widen the financial gulf between the top teams and others across the continent.

(Adds EPL revenue figure in final paragraph. An earlier version of this story corrected a reference to Manchester United to it being one of world’s best-supported clubs in final paragraph.)

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