Red Knights confident of United deal

Keith Harris, the man fronting the Red Knights’ takeover bid for

Manchester United, is confident a deal will be done to buy the

club.

Harris, an expect in footballing financial matters and

chairman for city bank Seymour Pierce, is fronting the Red Knights

– which is made up of a number of city-based investors, who are all

keen on taking a stake in United.

At the moment it is reported that pledges of over

£1billion have been made and the Red Knights are gearing up to

lodge a formal offer – despite the repeated statements from current

United owners, the Glazer Family, that the club is not for sale.

But Harris remains optimistic that a deal will be done and he

told the News of the World that the Glazers could be left with no

options but to cash in.

“Because they have to service the debt and that costs

£43m per year for the bonds with the cost of the PIK (Payment

in Kind notes) in addition. Now the PIK doesn’t take up cash but it

is storing up debt,” said Harris.

“They need the profits to pay the interest, to deal with the

PIKs, to deal with reinvestment in the squad and if they think that

all those things can’t be assured from revenue then they must be

scratching their heads thinking ‘How are we going to handle this?’.

“Whereas a lot of the opposition to the Glazers was

factionalised (in 2005) and some of it was manifested in a

thug-like behaviour, with the balaclavas and that kind of thing,

others tried to be more constructive. This time round the world’s a

very different place.

“One imagines the Glazers’ businesses in America are

struggling, the banks can’t lend like they used to and United is

under competitive challenge.

“You put all those into the mix and it might not be this

season, but let’s say the Glazers have to meet an interest bill and

they haven’t got the cashflow through the business, then there’s

only one asset they can sell and that’s amongst the players.”

Harris continued to outline the overall plans of the group.

“In any form of takeover you look for as much stability as

possible because it is at least for a short while destabilising,”

he said.

“Which is why a number of people say ‘What would the timing

for this be?’

“Well, I don’t know, but you try and do these things, if you

do them, during a period of relative quiet which points to the off

season.

“We need a collective, unified voice to make this happen.

“Sir Alex Ferguson doesn’t need to speak out and I don’t even

think it’s desirable actually because he should be absolutely

secure in the knowledge that if there was a deal put together he

would automatically be prepared to be expected and invited to be a

part of it.

“He doesn’t need to go and muddy the waters.

“People should understand that the purpose of any takeover is

to give loyal supporters part ownership of the club and give them a

voice.

“If there were people who were considering giving up their

season tickets on account of what they’ve heard about the Glazers’

plans from the bond issue prospectus, then in the event that our

takeover was successful we’re sure it could be worked out so that

they regained their places.

“We’d implement a block holding of 25.1 per cent to

permanently prevent another future takeover by the likes of Glazer.

“Season ticket holders would get their seats back at a lower

price and become shareholders in the club.

“I’ve been reading about the possibility that people with

corporate boxes and season tickets may actually take a stand.

“It’s not about turning up late at matches – the club’s

already had their money. It’s if those people say they’re not going

to renew.”