John Michael Edelson
7 July 1944
|Other names||The Shellmeister|
|Alma mater||Bury Grammar School|
|Known for||Director of Manchester United F.C.|
Michael Edelson is a non-executive director of Manchester United F.C. He is an angel investor, venture capitalist and philanthropist who has been instrumental in creating numerous cash shell companies on both AIM and PLUS. As a result of these, he was nicknamed "The Shellmeister" by Richard Rivlin in an article in the Sunday Telegraph in 1996 and the nickname has stuck to this day.
Edelson was educated at Bury Grammar School and joined his family business upon leaving Sixth Form.
Educated at Bury Grammar School, he was an amateur footballer playing for Oldham Athletic and Stoke City Reserves between 1960 and 1964 before joining the family business full-time in 1964. In the mid-1990s, he took a stake in Conrad Continental Limited, an ailing Manchester textile company that was listed on the London Stock Exchange. After the conversion of Conrad into a cash shell, Conrad successfully acquired Sheffield United F.C. via a reverse takeover and as a result a new route for companies to obtain a listing on a stock exchange had been created and Edelson's stock market career was launched.
In the late 1990s he was involved in a flurry of similar deals bringing to market larger companies such as Prestbury Group with Nigel Wray and Nick Leslau,The Pharmacy Restaurant in Notting Hill with Matthew Freud and Damien Hirst and most famously Knutsford where his co-investors were Julian Richer, Sir Archie Norman and again Wray and Leslau. Knutsford reached an amazing value of £1billion within a month of flotation and the Knutsford story is quoted in many business schools around the world.
He attracted many celebrity investors as he continued to float his shells, amongst them Alan Hansen, David Baddiel, Angus Deayton as well as numerous other sportsmen and even the investment arm of Her Majesty the Queen. His reputation for fairness and innovation has reaped rewards for many investors.
As a result of all of the transactions, he was dubbed "The Shellmeister" by City journalist Richard Rivlin in the Sunday Telegraph and the nickname stuck. He has now floated over 20 companies since Prestbury some of which have performed spectacularly as a result of having brought in budding entrepreneurs such as Abby Hardoon of Magic Moments and later Host Europe and Nick Robertson of ASOS.com. ASOS.com now has over 2,000 employees and is the United Kingdom's largest independent online and fashion beauty retailer. He is currently Chairman of SysPro Group plc and on the Board of a number of smaller private companies and charitable trusts.
During the 1980s, he was a judge on the Miss World Pageant, one of the few people to have judged three times. He sat alongside Eric Morley and celebrities Bruce Forsyth, Shirley Bassey, Susan George and Plácido Domingo amongst others.
His daughters Emma and Laura run their own niche corporate finance Business, Oxygen Ventures.
Edelson has been a non-exec Director of Manchester United F.C. since 1982. He was appointed to the board by Martin Edwards to replace Matt Busby, who had become club president earlier the same year. Edelson joined James Gulliver – who had built up the Edwards family meat business into the £4 billion Argyll Group – and Alan Gibson – the son of James Gibson, who was Manchester United's Chairman from 1932 to 1951 and whose loans saved the club from extinction.
Edelson was the first of a younger generation brought onto the board by Martin Edwards to replace the "old brigade" who had served Manchester United so well since the Second World War, when he replaced Sir Matt Busby on the club's board. Twelve months later, he was joined by Bobby Charlton and Maurice Watkins, the club solicitor.
During his long period on the Board he has seen a variety of ownership periods ranging from the Edwards family through the Michael Knighton saga to being a quoted PLC, failed attempts to acquire the Company from Robert Maxwell,Rupert Murdoch and Sky television to the Red Knights and the most recent period of ownership by the American Glazer family, a successful period during which United have won five Premier League titles, two FA Cups, three League Cups, one Champions League and one FIFA World Club Championship.
On 4 November 1986 United were floundering in the bottom half of the top division and that night had suffered a 4 – 1 defeat at the hands of Southampton in the Football League Cup. This led to an immediate discussion about a change of Manager and the following day the four man board – Edwards, Edelson, Sir Bobby Charlton and Maurice Watkins convened in Edward’s Old Trafford Office. They were unanimous that a change had to be made and that the best candidate would be Alex Ferguson, then Manager of Aberdeen who had been successful over a nine-year period in breaking the Celtic/Rangers monopoly of trophies in Scotland.
According to Ferguson’s autobiography he received a telephone call from a man in his office with a Scottish accent. He subsequently discovered that this was Manchester United Director Michael Edelson who asked Ferguson if he would be interested in speaking to Martin Edwards.
As told in the story – “The Kingmakers of Old Trafford” in the Daily Mail in April 2014, Matt Lawton described the meeting at Old Trafford deciding how to approach Ferguson. This culminated in Edelson being asked to call the Aberdeen switchboard using a Scottish accent to speak to Ferguson, and breaking the ice this way.
The conversation obviously went well. A meeting was arranged midway between Aberdeen and Manchester at Hamilton Services later that day. Negotiations were quickly concluded and less than 72 hours later, Ferguson replaced Ron Atkinson and Sir Alex went on to become the most successful manager in British Football History.
At a Charity Event at the JW3 Centre in London during June 2016, David Beckham was being interviewed by Kirsti Young. He was asked if it was true Michael Edelson introduced him to Victoria.
He answered that he had shaken hands with Victoria at a United match against Chelsea, but she left immediately after that. He hadn’t managed to get her phone number and he thought he’d lost his chance.
The following week at Old Trafford, David said he’d heard that two of the Spice Girls were at the match and he obviously hoped that one of them was Posh Spice. Apparently the two girls had asked if they could go into the Players’ lounge after the game. Mr Edelson brought them into the Players’ Lounge and one was Victoria, the other was Sporty Spice. She had a couple of glasses of wine. “I did get her phone number. So yes, he did introduce me”.
- Director of Manchester United Football Club Limited since 1982
- Manchester United Foundation
- Trustee of several charities
- Chairman of SysGroup plc
- Manchester United Foundation Fundraising Ltd
- Chairman of Bidooh Ltd
- Director of ASOS plc,
- Director of Prestbury Group plc,
- Director of Chelford Group plc,
- Director of Host Europe plc (previously Magic Moments Internet plc),
- Director of Knutsford Group plc,
- Director of Mercury Recycling Group plc
- Director of Singer and Friedlander AIM3 VCT plc
- Doward, Jamie (7 November 1999). "Knutsford - there's no City limits". London: The Observer.
- Feddy, Kevin. "Shellmeister takes 'nutty' theme for AIM return". Manchester Evening News.
- Ringshaw, Grant (2 May 2004). "Cash shell companies storm back into business". London: The Telegraph.
- Warner, Edmond (15 October 2004). "He sells, see shells ... an invitation to view". London: The Guardian.
- Foster, Geoff. "Yesterday's trading in detail: Precision tool maker Renishaw ripe for a takeover". This is Money.
- Lyons, Tom (4 December 2012). "Fastnet Oil is set for €25m market debutIt's the first Irish flotation since 2007". Independent Ireland.
- "Sterling Green Group acquires Terra Energy in reverse takeover". Manchester Evening News.
- Lawton, Matt (5 November 2011). "The Kingmakers of Old Trafford!". London: The Daily Mail.