Manchester United, one of the richest soccer clubs in the world, is on the verge of shaking its ties with one of the world's most powerful investment banks, Goldman Sachs, the Financial Times reported Thursday.
The owners of the Premier League team, the Glazer family, are looking to cut their association with Goldman because the bank's chief economist and long-time Man United supporter Jim O'Neill criticized of the club's debt situation, the FT said.
"There's too much leverage going on with Man United. It's not a good thing. I'm not a buyer of the bond. I value my long-term support for Man United better than anything else," O'Neill said, Reuters reported citing Bloomberg.
The comments were made after Man United's recent £500 million bond issue and have angered the Glazers; partly because Goldman is one of the syndicate of banks that helped with the issue, the FT said.
One of the current owners of the club, Joel Glazer, called Goldman's chairman and chief executive Lloyd Blankfein in the wake of the comments, the FT said citing people with knowledge of the situation.
The family was not satisfied with assurances that O'Neill's comments were his own opinions and not a reflection of the bank, the source told the FT.
The Glazer's have stated that they may go elsewhere for their corporate finance needs because of O'Neill's actions, the FT said citing sources.
O'Neill, along with a consortium of investors calling themselves the Red Knights, unveiled plans to buy Manchester United for over £1 billion this week, the report said.
The group includes Paul Marshall, founder of London hedge fund Marshall Wace, who has been opposed to the levels of borrowing at the club since the Glazer's took control in 2005, according to Dow Jones.
The Red Knights are said to sport the club's 1902 green and gold uniform, instead of the world famous red strip, to protest against the debt, the report said.