Elon Musk says he was joking about buying Manchester United

Aug 17 (Reuters) – Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, tweeted on Wednesday that he was joking when he said he was going to buy English football club Manchester United Plc (MANU.N).

“No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I don’t buy sports teams,” Musk said when asked by a user if he was serious about buying the club.

About four hours earlier, Musk had tweeted: “I buy Manchester United ur (sic) welcome”, without giving details. Some Manchester United fans, dissatisfied with their club’s declining fortunes of late, had previously urged Musk on Twitter to consider buying the club.

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The turnaround in tweet comes as Musk wants to end a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter (TWTR.N), just four months after announcing on the platform that he would buy the social media company, which has sued him.

Musk has a history of being unconventional and posting irreverent tweets, sometimes making it hard to tell when he’s joking.

“Then I’ll buy Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back in,” he tweeted on April 27, two days after Twitter’s board accepted his unsolicited offer to buy the company.

Musk’s tweets about possible takeovers have caused him trouble with US regulators in the past.

In 2018, he tweeted that “funding was secured” for a $72 billion deal to take Tesla private, but fell through with an offer. Musk and Tesla each paid $20 million in civil fines — and Musk stepped down as chairman of Tesla — to resolve the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) allegations that Musk was defrauding investors.

The SEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s tweet that he bought the club outside normal business hours.

Musk’s ambitions range from colonizing Mars to creating a new sustainable energy economy, and in the process he has built the world’s most valuable car company, electric vehicle maker Tesla, rocket company SpaceX and a slew of smaller companies. One is a tunnel maker called the Boring Company.

Manchester United are one of the most recognized names in world football but are currently in crisis on the pitch amid angry calls from fans for the club’s current owners, the American Glazer family, to withdraw.

The Northern England-based team has more than 32 million followers on its main Twitter account and Musk’s first tweet about the club had racked up nearly 400,000 ‘likes’ on the platform within four hours.

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Reporting by Juby Babu in Bengaluru and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco; Written by Peter Henderson, Michael Perry and Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Aditya Soni, Neil Fullick and Kenneth Maxwell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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