Elon Musk says he was joking about buying Manchester United.

Elon Musk says he was joking about buying Manchester United.

Elon Musk joked on Twitter about buying Manchester United Plc, then clarified 4 1/2 hours later that he was joking about buying the English football club listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Tesla Inc. CEO and world's richest person issued his first message about the legendary club in response to a previous tweet on his political allegiances. When a Tesla fan club account questioned if Musk was serious, he responded that he was not interested in purchasing any sports franchises.

Manchester United shares were up 4.9% to $13.40 as of 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, paring a 17% rise on little volume.

Musk has a lengthy history of tweeting in jest. He's also been in trouble with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, most notably for saying in 2018 that he had the funds to take Tesla private. This resulted in securities fraud charges and a settlement agreement in which Tesla agreed to establish an in-house "Twitter sitter" to pre-approve postings containing significant information about the firm.

More recently, Musk drew the attention of the SEC with a May 17 tweet in which he stated that his $44 billion purchase of Twitter Inc. could not proceed until its CEO demonstrated assertions about the amount of bots on the service were correct. In a letter dated June 2, the agency questioned Musk's failure to revise an earlier SEC filing to reflect an apparent substantial change in his plan to purchase the firm. He attempted to cancel the agreement last month, prompting Twitter to sue in an attempt to force him to finish the sale.

Previously, Musk kept poking the bear who wanted to kick him out of Tesla.

Musk's Manchester United comments may rekindle regulatory interest, considering the club has been listed on the NYSE since 2012.

"When someone in his position makes a remark about purchasing an entity, people speculate: 'Is he kidding, not joking, half-joking?'" Hui Chen, an ethical and compliance consultant who served as the US Department of Justice's first compliance counsel specialist, agreed. "His actions have a significant influence on markets, and he must be aware of the potential consequences."

Prior to Musk's comments, trading volume in Manchester United shares and options increased significantly. According to Bloomberg statistics, open interest in call options soared to more than 60,000 contracts from about 20,000 contracts in only two trading days last week, with one call option showing 37,630 contracts changing hands on Aug. 12. 

According to Forbes, Manchester United is worth $4.6 billion. A company led by billionaire Todd Boehly agreed to acquire Chelsea FC from sanctioned Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich for £4.25 billion ($5.1 billion), including future investments, in the most recent sale of a Premier League powerhouse.

Musk did say that if he could only purchase one team, it would be Manchester United, his childhood love. The club's director of media relations and public affairs, Andrew Ward, declined to comment.

Manchester United boasts a record 13 Premier League titles, but the club is presently bottom in the league following a dreadful start to the season under new coach Erik ten Hag. The team dropped its first two games of the season, including a 4-0 loss to Brentford last weekend.

Fans have criticised the club's performance under the Glazer family, who also owns the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During the first home game of the season, a big number of supporters came toward the stadium with banners that said, "Fight greed. Fight for the United States. The Telegraph newspaper said, "Fight Glazers" and "We want our club back."

Manchester United last won the Premier League title in 2012-13 under renowned coach Alex Ferguson, and has since slipped behind crosstown rival Manchester City, who has won four of the previous five titles. The Telegraph claimed Tuesday that wantaway star striker Cristiano Ronaldo would be permitted to leave Manchester United this summer provided he can find a team willing to acquire him.

tags:elon musk,tesla,manchester united
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