It was announced today that Baron Capital Management has purchased nearly 25% of the available shares in Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU) from the Glazer family.

Manchester United

Baron, a New York-based fund with nearly $16 billion under management, invested in one of sports most popular and enduring brands.

On its website, Baron said: “Manchester United plc is an English Premier League professional sports team that generates revenue from broadcasting, sponsorship, and licensing. Shares of Manchester United dropped in Q4 due to a delay in the signing of a new global merchandise deal with Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE) and the team’s poor performance on the field. The Nike deal is still expected to be signed, but has been pushed out from this fiscal year. We remain positive on the company’s prospects going forward.”

New Nike deal could represent 40% of stock’s market cap

Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU), a 20-time English soccer league champion, is known as one of the lucrative sports franchises, the soccer team nonetheless struggled this year. The acquisition by Baron comes as the stock had been trading near its yearly low levels. Ron Baron, founder of Baron Capital, is known for investing in stocks on a drawdown. The investment comes as speculation build that Manchester United is about to sign a rich apparel deal with Nike Inc.

The Nike deal is said to be a 10-year, $1 billion deal to provide the soccer club uniforms, shoes and equipment.  The deal would represent nearly 40% of Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU)’s value, according to a report

Manchester United: Baron and Soros fans, Odey and Tremblant short sellers

While Baron is a fan of Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU) along with George Soros, also a stock holder, notable shorts in the stock include Odey Asset Management, the London-based fund with nearly $6 billion under management run by Crispin OdeyAnother hedge fund short seller is Tremblant Capital Group, the New York-based hedge fund with nearly $3 billion under management run by Brett Barakett.

Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU) shares jumped 6.2% yesterday, and were little changed at $15.82 in early trading in New York today.