Hedge fund bets on Manchester Utd misfortunes

Old Trafford

English soccer club Manchester United may have broken its losing streak with a win against Shakhtar Donetsk this week, but speculation over manager David Moyes' team isn't over - and not just on the pitch.

As reported by This Is Money, British hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, who runs Odey Asset Management, has taken a $22 million short position in the New York-listed club. A short position means an investor borrows a company's stock and then sells it, ahead of an anticipated drop in the share price, when they can then buy the share back at a much lower price.

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The decision by Odey, whose company manages roughly $10.9 billion of assets according to its website, to short the stock comes despite some well-known investors remain firmly rooted to the club. George Soros has a 5.3 percent stake in the Manchester team and GLG has a 2.2 percent stake.

Since making its debut on the New York Stock Exchange in August 2012 at $14 a share, the team's stock has steadily risen and closed at $16.98 on Wednesday. While the stock struggled at first, falling to lows of $12 in September 2012, analysts told CNBC back in the summer that its on-the-field success - which saw the team win a record 20th league title - had helped the stock to improve.

However, the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson after almost three decades as manager of Manchester United cast some doubts on the club's near future. New manager David Moyes has not got off to the best of starts in his job. The team is currently twelfth in the league table, 13 points off the top.

The team have dropped 23 points in 15 games so far this season. They only dropped 25 points in the whole of last season under Ferguson.

(Read more: Soccer wins send Manchester United shares soaring )

However, the Manchester United brand is still strong, with millions of fans around the world. The club also announced last month that revenues rose by 29.1 percent to £98 million ($160 million) for the first quarter of the financial year due to new sponsorship deals and the effect of the new TV rights deals.

(Read more: Record Manchester United earnings lifted by sponsorship )

Furthermore, Deloitte analysts have argued that the UEFA Champions League, the most prestigious tournament in Europe, is critical for a club's financial success, and United's qualification into the knock-out stages is welcome news. United's victory over Shakthar Donetsk ensured they finished top of their group.

Odey Asset Management told CNBC that they do not comment on individual stock positions.

- By CNBC's Kiran Moodley. Follow him on Twitter @kirancmoodley

image: © Paolo Camera

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