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Despite IPO Letdown, Manchester a "Growth Story": CEO

The Manchester United soccer club badge is displayed outside the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, U.K., on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011.
Paul Thomas | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Manchester United soccer club badge is displayed outside the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, U.K., on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011.

Despite a disappointing initial public offering price, the CEO of Manchester United insists his soccer club is a “growth story” that investors can believe in, David Gill told CNBC Friday.

One of the most recognizable brands in soccer — or football, as the game is called in Europe — Manchester

floated shares late Thursday, but at a level below the expected $16-20 price range. In early U.S. trading, the stock was little changed around its initial pricing level at $14.

Had Manchester priced at the high end of its range, it would have been valued at about $1 billion more. Gill, however, dismissed any speculation that the deal was a disappointment, even after the club scrapped initial plans to list on an Asian exchange.

“What we’ve shown to investors on the road is that we are very much a growth story,” he told CNBC’s Squawk Box. “In the current economic climate we all face, that’s a very positive thing, and people have bought into it.”

During a wide-ranging interview, Gill insisted that he was “pleased with the range of institutional demand.” Calling the stock “strong,” the CEO added that investors now have a chance to get in at the ground level of one of the world’s few growth industries.

“You’ll be buying into what is one of the world’s most iconic brands….and it’s the fastest growing sport in the world,” Gill said. “Week in and week out, we can demonstrate across all our revenue streams great growth opportunities.”

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