Elon Musk is not expanding his empire into international soccer, but may have scored an own goal and teed up more trouble from the SEC.
Hours later, he cleared up the matter, tweeting to a follower that he was “not buying any sports teams.” Musk added that if he were buying a team, it would be ManU as it was his favorite as a child.
Neither Manchester United nor the SEC immediately replied to requests for further information.
Musk’s apparent joke may not be funny to the Securities and Exchange Commission, since Manchester United
is a publicly traded company. Musk’s tweet came at 8:01 p.m., just after the end of after-hours trading, so Man U’s stock was unaffected.
Musk is no stranger to tweets coming back to bite him. His 2018 tweet that he had “funding secured” to consider taking Tesla private at $420 a share became the subject of regulatory action by the SEC, ultimately resulting in $20 million fines each against Musk and Tesla.
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Musk has sparred with the SEC on a number of other occasions over the years. He’s also embroiled in a bitter legal battle as he’s trying to pull out of a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter Inc.
If the Tesla boss had been serious, it would have marked a seismic deal for one of the most valuable sports brands on the planet. Manchester United’s current owners, the Glazer family, have been under pressure to sell the team after years of underperformance, mismanagement and a revolt by some fans. The team is currently in last place in the English Premier League, after their second straight loss to start the season, an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Brentford on Saturday.
Last week, reports said British businessman Michael Knighton planned a formal bid to buy the team. The club has an estimated value of $4.6 billion, according to Forbes.
That price tag would be doable for Musk, who is the world’s wealthiest individual, with a fortune estimated around $267 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Manchester United went public in a 2012 IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shares are down 10% year to date, in line with the S&P 500’s
10% loss this year.