Financiers forming bid to buy United from Glazers
Manchester United's Glazer family owners are set to receive a
takeover bid being put together by a group of financiers determined
to oust the Americans.
The discussions, which are in their early stages, are being led by football deal broker Keith Harris, chairman of investment bankers Seymour Pierce, and Jim O'Neill, chief economist at Goldman Sachs.
The group, who describe themselves as high net worth individuals, see the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) as key to helping their takeover attempts succeed.
The 18-time English champions have been valued at $1.8 billion by Forbes Magazine, but the Glazers have consistently insisted that the debt-ridden club is not for sale.
"A group of high net worth individuals, who support Manchester United, met in London yesterday," the group, calling themselves the Red Knights, said in a statement. "This group is supportive of current management but are looking at the feasibility of putting together a proposal to be put to the Glazer family regarding the ownership of Manchester United. These discussions are in early stages and no contact has been made with the Glazer family.
"For such a proposal to be viable, it would require the involvement and support of Manchester United supporters worldwide."
Debt arising from Malcolm Glazer's 2005 leveraged takeover of the club has risen to 716.5 million pounds ($1.1 billion).
"Any new ownership model would aim not only to put the Club on a sound financial footing, but would also aim to put the supporters at the heart of everything the club does," the Red Knights statement said. "In the coming weeks the Red Knights will continue to work with MUST and others to formulate our proposal."
The United supporters group has stepped up its campaign in recent week to force the Glazers out of Old Trafford, notably by getting fans to wear green and gold - the colors of Newton Heath, the club's original name.
"Initially the Red Knight Group has effectively set a challenge to Manchester United supporters to demonstrate they wish to see an alternative ownership proposal developed," MUST chief executive Duncan Drasdo said. "In the first instance supporters are being asked to do this simply by joining the free online membership of the Supporters Trust and swelling its ranks to an initial target of at least 100,000."