Elon Musk says he was joking about buying Manchester United – Reuters

Elon Musk says he was joking about buying Manchester United - Reuters

Aug 17 (Reuters) – Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, said early on Wednesday that he was joking when he tweeted hours earlier that he would buy currently struggling English soccer club Manchester United Plc. (HAND.N).

“No, this is a long running joke on Twitter. I don’t buy sports teams,” Musk posted when a user asked if he was serious about buying the club. “Although if it was any team it would be Man U,” he added, “they were my favorite (sic) team as a kid.”

Musk originally tweeted: “I’m buying Manchester United ur (sic) welcome,” without offering any details. Some Manchester United fans, disgruntled by their club’s declining fortunes recently, had previously urged Musk on Twitter to consider buying the club.

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The tweet change comes as Musk looks to exit a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter (TWTR.N) just four months after announcing on the platform he would buy the social media company that took him to court.

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

“Next time I’m buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back,” he tweeted on April 27, two days after Twitter’s board accepted his unsolicited offer to buy the company.

Referring to that post, on Wednesday he tweeted: “And I’m not buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back, despite the extreme popularity of such a move.”

Musk’s tweets about potential acquisitions have put him in hot water with US regulators in the past.

In 2018, he tweeted that there was “funding secured” for a $72 billion deal to take Tesla private, but did not move forward with an offer. Musk and Tesla each paid $20 million in civil fines – and Musk stepped down as Tesla’s chairman – to resolve US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claims that Musk misled investors.

The SEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s tweet that he was buying the club outside of regular business hours.

Musk’s ambitions range from colonizing Mars to creating a new sustainable energy economy, and in the process he has built the most valuable car company in the world, electric vehicle Tesla, rocket company SpaceX, and a host of smaller companies. One is a tunnel called the Boring Company.

EXTENSIVE OPPOSITION

Manchester United are one of the most famous names in world football but are currently in crisis on the pitch amid angry calls from fans for the club’s current owners, the American Glazer family, to get out.

Criticism from fans and pundits over the change of ownership at the three-time winners of the European Cup, the most prestigious club competition in the global game, is intensifying amid an extended run without winning major titles.

British newspaper The Daily Mirror reported last year that the Glazers, who have faced widespread fan opposition to their management since acquiring the club in 2005 for 790 million pounds ($957 million), were prepared to sell but only if they were offered more than 4 .billion pounds.

In its annual rankings this year, Forbes rated Manchester United, with its huge global fan base, the third most valuable soccer club in the world, worth $4.6 billion, behind only Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

But shares in the New York-listed soccer club have fallen by a quarter in the past 12 months, valuing it at just over $2 billion. The stock has rebounded in the past month, gaining 16% to close at $12.78 on Tuesday.

The northern England-based team has more than 32 million followers on its main Twitter account and Musk’s first tweet about the club garnered more than 430,000 “likes” on the platform within five hours.

Musk, who is worth $270 billion, according to Forbes, could certainly afford to buy the club.

Last week, filings revealed that Musk sold $6.9 billion of Tesla stock, which he said could be used to fund a potential Twitter deal if he loses a legal battle with the social media platform.

In all, Musk sold about $32 billion worth of Tesla stock in less than a year in part to pay tax obligations and finance a Twitter deal.

Musk and his lawyer did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on his original Twitter post before his message that he was joking. The Florida-based Glazer family did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Reporting by Juby Babu in Bengaluru and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco; Writing by Peter Henderson, Michael Perry and Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Aditya Soni, Neil Fullick and Kenneth Maxwell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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