Red Knights confident of United deal

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.”