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Ferguson’s self-proclaimed ambition was to knock Liverpool off its perch, one he realized through the accumulation of 13 Premier League championships and two Champion League victories among his 38 titles with the club.

While change was afoot on the soccer field, the club was making moves on the financial front too.

In 1991, shares in the club were listed on the London Stock Exchange, generating a cash windfall that helped Manchester United end its title drought two years later _ a breakthrough that launched a period of dominance in English soccer that only Liverpool could match.

Success bred more success and by 1998, the club received a takeover bid from none other than Rupert Murdoch, whose BSkyB PLC broadcaster already had the television rights to screen live coverage of the increasingly lucrative Premier League. Although the Manchester United board accepted the 623 million pounds bid, the takeover attempt met with huge resistance from fans and was eventually ruled unlawful by British competition authorities in 1999.

Ferguson was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999, following the club’s unprecedented triple success in the Champions League, the Premier League and the FA Cup.

A period of boardroom friction then ensued, which at times threatened Ferguson’s position as manager.

By 2003, the family of Malcolm Glazer started building up a stake in Manchester United as it attempted to reap the rewards that came from the club’s pre-eminence in English soccer and the skyrocketing revenues from television rights and sponsorships.

Within two years, the Glazers had built up a majority stake in Manchester United that eventually allowed them to take it out of public hands.

Many United fans have opposed the Glazer family because the Glazers placed a large chunk of the debt they had built up while taking control of the club on its balance sheet.

In August 2012, the Glazers sought to refinance the debt at better terms than the prevailing conditions by floating the club on the New York Stock Exchange. Despite lackluster interest _ the share price was floated at $14 a share as opposed to the hoped-for $16-20 price range _ investors have grown more enthusiastic. The share price recently made a brief foray above $19 _ not a bad return for investors who bought up the stock in the initial offering.

Demand for the stock has gone hand in hand with Manchester United’s advance to a 20th league title this spring.

United’s debt has been cut in half in the past three years to 367.6 million pounds ($572 million), according to the latest financial results. United also recently forecast record revenue this season of at least 350 million pounds thanks largely to its ability to attract an array of global sponsors.

Manchester United will also benefit from the TV rights to show its matches. Last year, the English Premier League announced the sale of domestic TV rights to BSkyB and BT for 3.018 billion pounds ($4.69 billion) in a record three-year deal that was almost twice as much as the previous contract.

Despite his departure, Ferguson can claim to have sowed the seeds for his club’s further success. The squad itself is young and the club’s youth squad system that he overhauled has a history of delivering top-rated talent.

Manchester United’s debt has eased partly on the back of the initial public offering but also through the club’s ability to raise money, not the least from ticket prices at the 76,000-seat Old Trafford.

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