Red Knights draw up battle plans

The group of wealthy United fans have said they do not expect to

make a bid for the club before the end of the season but they are

now drawing up a detailed battle plan. The talks were to confirm

exactly where the money will come from to fund a bid and to

determine the level of fan involvement in the proposed ownership

structure. A key discussion was also to focus on the

£509million bond taken out by the Glazer family who currently

own United – it is likely any takeover bid would have to entail

retaining the bond. Investment bank Nomura have been advising both

the Red Knights and the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST)

who have been broadly backing the takeover bid. A source close to

the talks said: “We are now developing the financial model before

making a bid. This is very much getting into the details of funding

and future ownership.” The consortium includes Goldman Sachs chief

economist Jim O’Neill, a former United director, and Mark

Rawlinson, a partner at leading London law firm Freshfields. The

Glazers bought United for £800million in 2005 but loaded debt

on to the club – the total debt on the club now tops

£700million.