Man Utd enters a new league on the stock exchange

Manchester United goes on the New York Stock Exchange. Photo:

Today comes the chance to move from football supporter to financial supporter, as Manchester United shares go on sale in New York. It is a floatation that confirms Man United as the world's most valuable football club.

Though shares are selling for less than originally expected (at $14 dollars each), this values the company far higher than its closest commercial rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona. The club is valued at £1.4 billion, significantly higher than the £790m paid by the current owners back in 2005.

Anyone interested in investing will be attracted by some very juicy off-pitch results. Last year Man U sold five million branded items. Its become the first club to go beyond £100 million a year in earnings. But there are big risks to this investment.

The uncertainties of what happens on the pitch - what happens when Sir Alex Ferguson decides to hang up his boots. And the biggest worry of all...what happens to its debt.

Manchester United directors Bryan Glazer (right) and Avram Glazer. Credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

The American based Glazer brothers burdened Man United, borrowing £525 million when they bought the club seven years ago. Preparing for today's launch they put in place a two-class voting structure meaning they retain almost total control rather than passing voting rights to the new investors.

New investors were told Man U will increasingly exploit new media and broadcasting rights via its own TV channel. One of the world's most recognizable global brands, with 659 million followers, is now entering a new league.