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Musk leaves Man Utd in a muddle with Twitter takeover 'joke'


Musk leaves Man Utd in a muddle: As Tesla boss dashes fans’ hopes of an Old Trafford takeover, his tweet kicks off debate over the club’s future

Billionaire Elon Musk sparked a brief moment of hope for Manchester United fans after saying on Twitter on Tuesday that he was planning to buy the football club.

But the Tesla boss dashed these dreams after five hours in which he offered no details of his proposals, saying it was just part of ‘a long-running joke’.

‘I’m not buying any sports teams. Although, if it were any team, it would be Man U. They were my favourite team as a kid. Stand-up is my side hustle,’ Musk added.

Joke: Elon Musk said on Twitter that he was planning on buying Manchester United football club, sparking euphoria among fans and sending the share price soaring

Joke: Elon Musk said on Twitter that he was planning on buying Manchester United football club, sparking euphoria among fans and sending the share price soaring

The football team’s shares, which are listed on the US stock market, surged following Musk’s initial tweet that he was planning to buy the club, and remained almost 5 per cent higher despite the billionaire’s clarification. 

The club is now worth around £1.8billion.

The possibility of a takeover bid by Musk would have delighted Manchester United fans, many of whom have complained about what they deem to have been a lack of investment by its current owners, the Florida-based Glazer family, who have controlled the club since 2005.

These complaints have been amplified in recent days following the club’s humiliating 4-0 defeat to Brentford over the weekend.

But market analysts warned Manchester United investors and shareholders to be careful for what they wish for.

Neil Wilson, analyst at Markets, said: ‘The Manchester United tweets are a joke and they should be treated as such. 

But on a serious note, Twitter and Tesla shareholders know how much trouble they can cause and they have landed him in serious hot water.

‘The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) tried to clamp down on his tweeting but clearly it hasn’t worked.’

Troubles: The possibility of a takeover by Musk would have delighted Man United fans, many of whom complain about what they deem to have been a lack of investment by its current owners

Troubles: The possibility of a takeover by Musk would have delighted Man United fans, many of whom complain about what they deem to have been a lack of investment by its current owners

It is not the first time that Musk has put out outlandish tweets about acquisitions, saying back in April that he was planning on ‘buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back in’.

Perhaps the most well-known of these is the billionaire’s current legal battle to extract himself from a £35billion deal to buy Twitter after announcing on the platform earlier this year that he was planning to acquire the social media site.

Musk agreed to pay $54.20 per share for the firm, and planned to fund part of the deal with a loan secured against his Tesla stake.

He has since attempted to abandon the purchase, partly because of fears around the number of fake accounts on the platform.

But Twitter has insisted the deal should proceed while the terms of the agreement also include provision for an £816million break fee if the transaction collapses.

Meanwhile, Tesla has also suffered as the billionaire has been distracted by the takeover tussle.

Aside from his legal issues with Twitter, Musk’s tweets also drew the ire of the SEC in 2018 after he tweeted that he had ‘secured’ funding for a £60billion deal to take Tesla private but eventually did not make an offer for the firm.

The SEC claimed that he had defrauded investors as a result – and slapped both Musk and Tesla with a £17million fine each, while also ordering the billionaire to step down from his role as chairman of the company.

Another part of the settlement was that any future tweets about Tesla by Musk required pre-approval from the company’s lawyers. 

While Musk might not take over any time soon, Manchester United shareholders and fans should be glad they dodged a bullet.

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