The Glazer family are open to selling Manchester United.
The American owners of Man Utd are willing to listen to offers for the club after a 17-year reign dominated by fan protests and declining on-pitch performance.
If the club – valued at around £5bn – is sold, it is expected to be purchased by US investors.
A Manchester United statement confirmed plans to identify “strategic alternatives” and said the process will consider a number of options “including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the company”.
Sky Sports News had earlier exclusively revealed the Glazer family were preparing to announce their intention to examine potential sources of outside investment that could include a full-blown auction of arguably the world’s most famous football club.
Manchester United’s share price immediately rose by 17 per cent as a result, adding almost $400m (£336.4m) to the club’s market capitalisation, according to football finance expert Kieran Maguire.
Executive co-chairmen and directors Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer said: “The strength of Manchester United rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers. As we seek to continue building on the club’s history of success, the Board has authorised a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives.
“We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximises the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future. Throughout this process we will remain fully focused on serving the best interests of our fans, shareholders, and various stakeholders.”
The Raine Group, which facilitated the sale of Chelsea over the summer, is acting as United’s exclusive financial adviser, with Rothschild and Co performing the same role to the Glazer family shareholders.
The announcement of a review of financial options that could include a sale process would signal an end to years of speculation over whether the Glazers might be persuaded to offload a club which for the past decade have experienced an almost-unmitigated footballing decline.
United have not won the Premier League title since 2013, and have sacked a succession of managers in the aftermath of the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.