Here at Macworld, we’ve covered dozens of Apple acquisitions over the years, both real and imagined. But the latest company Apple is reportedly looking to buy is a weird one: Manchester United football club.
The Daily Star reported on Thursday that “Apple executives have expressed interest in discussing a potential deal” with current owners Joel and Avram Glazer. The asking price was initially set at £8.25 billion (around $10 billion), but Apple is said to be planning to spend something closer to £5.8 billion.
These are huge sums in the sporting world and would break the record £4.25bn prize set by Chelsea FC in May. It would also be a healthy profit for the Glazers, who bought Man Utd in 2005 for less than £800m. But it’s relatively little change for Apple, which earned its bid money from reduced iPad revenue alone last quarter.
We’ll go on the record before going any further and say it’s almost certainly not going to happen. Apple has no experience running a sports team, and despite our flippant comment about iPad revenue, this would be a huge gamble. It’s wise to be skeptical of any rumor of an Apple takeover, but even more so of rumors involving Manchester United: as we’ve seen with Elon Musk and Conor McGregor, both of whom have claimed to be interested in buying the club , it is an easy target. for publicity hunters. This story, which includes two of the biggest brand names in the world, is the perfect storm for rumourers: if it weren’t true, someone would make it up.
That said, there is a certain appeal to the idea. “Ted Lasso,” the Apple TV+ comedy about an ignorant but likeable American coach who takes over a venerable British soccer team, is one of the service’s biggest successes in the past two years, and the company will soon begin streaming MLS football games in the US. . Owning a Premiership club would give it leverage to expand coverage abroad. And it would certainly be a great promotional tool to have Man Utd kits printed with the Apple logo. (Though one possible wrinkle is that Qualcomm entered into a “multi-year global strategic partnership” with the soccer club in August, which could make for some fun encounters.)
But as interesting as the story is, it is unlikely to be true. As they say in football, this is a knock-on maverick punch. Foul and a miss. New balls, please.