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Man Utd become first $3bn club

Manchester United have become the first sports team in the world to be valued at more than US$3 billion (£1.9bn).

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According to American business magazine Forbes, United are comfortably ahead of the world's second-most-valuable sports team, the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, worth US$2.1bn (£1.4bn).

The magazine states: "Despite a drop in first quarter earnings because of a reduction in television revenue, the appetite for shares of the 19-time English champion has increased due to better earnings, new sponsorship deals with Japan's Kansai, and China Construction Bank, and the potential of much more lucrative English Premier League (Manchester United currently is in first place) and Champions League payouts this year."

Indeed, a surge in the club's shares - standing now at $17 each - has seen the overall value of United rise and a huge increase in the overall wealth of the Glazer family, who have a controlling interest in United, and billionaire investor George Soros - the 22nd richest person in the world - who bought a 7.5% stake in the club.

United sold 10% of shares in the club in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in August when the Glazers - their owners - hoped to achieve a price of $20 each, which could have valued the club at $3.3 billion (£2.06 billion).

But after underwriters initially propped the share price up, it fell as low as $12, which valued the club at just under $2 billion (£1.3bn).

However, United's commercial growth appears to be driving the share price up, with the club announcing several new sponsorship deals since August, qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages, and with the prospect of the new bumper Premier League television deals that are coming on stream from August.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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