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How much would Elon Musk have to pay to buy the top teams in the world?

The South African billionaire joked on Twitter earlier this week that he was planning on buying Premier League club Manchester United. How much would the Old Trafford club cost?

Elon Musk's twitter account and Manchester United logo are seen in this illustration taken, August 17, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Manchester United fans might have got their hopes up over a new billionaire owner, but it would seem the chances of Elon Musk investing in the club are slim.

South African-born American businessman Musk, who among his many ventures is the founder of SpaceX and chief executive of Tesla, caused a stir on Tuesday by claiming he was going to buy United.

The club’s fanbase have long wanted its current owners, the Glazer family, who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to sell up, with many supporters and pundits blaming the team’s failures in the post Alex Ferguson era on sub-par investment.

Just three days after United suffered a humbling 4-0 defeat at Brentford, Musk wrote on Twitter: “I’m buying Manchester United ur [you’re] welcome.”

Elon Musk's twitter account and displayed soccer ball are seen in this illustration taken, August 17, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
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Elon Musk's twitter account and displayed soccer ball are seen in this illustration taken, August 17, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/IllustrationDADO RUVICREUTERS

In the wake of Musk’s first tweet, United’s share price spiked by close to 17 per cent before settling slightly after the US pre-market trade.

Yet when asked if he seriously intended to purchase United, Musk responded: “No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I’m not buying any sports teams.” However, Musk did not fully close the door.

“Although, if it were any team, it would be Man U,” the 51-year-old went on to write. “They were my fav team as a kid.”

Ratcliffe interested in United

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe is interested in buying Manchester United, his spokesperson told The Times on Wednesday. The club’s owners, the American Glazer family, are under pressure with United sitting bottom of the Premier League after two games of the season. Bloomberg reported they would consider selling a minority stake, opening the door for Ratcliffe. ‘If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer,’ Ratcliffe’s spokesperson said. ‘If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership.’

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United
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Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United Michael ReganGetty

How much would United cost?

Buying sports properties is big business and the current direction is to see an upward trend in prices being secured to sell high profile clubs. Just a few months ago, Premier League giants Chelsea FC were bought from Roman Abramovich by LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly and his associates after they lodged a 4.25 billion pounds ($5.2 billion) bid for the ‘Blues’ with the deal approved last May. The bid was later ratified by the Premier League, the UK government and the EU duly following. Of that outlay, 1.75 billion pounds was earmarked for investment in the stadium, women’s team, the academy and the Chelsea Foundation.

The sale of the London based club came about after Abramovich was forced to put the club up for sale in early March shortly before being sanctioned as part of the UK’s response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Todd Boehly stamps his authority at Stamford Bridge
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Guro Reiten, Sam Kerr, Erin Cuthbert and Todd BoehlyClive MasonGetty

Should Ratcliffe or the Michael Knightion led consortium secure a sale from the Glazer family, it’s anticipated that the asking price would top that of the Chelsea sale despite the latest valuation of the Old Trafford club of around $4.6 billion as of May, as per Forbes.

Broncos sale sets US sports record

An agreement was reached in early June for the sale of the NFL franchise Denver Broncos in a deal reportedly worth $4.65 billion, a new record for an American sports franchise. Ownership of the Broncos transfered to the Walton-Penner family ownership group, headed by Walmart heir Rob Walton.

The acquisition set a new benchmark for the price of professional sports franchises in the United States, clearing the purchase of the New York Mets ($2.4billion) by nearly $2billion, and going for more than double the price of the Carolina Panthers ($2.27billion).

The Panthers were the last NFL franchise to change hands back in 2018 before the Denver deal.