United's upturn boosts Glazers

BY foxsports • March 2, 2010

The figures were released in the face of a possible takeover bid from a group of wealthy supporters. A summit meeting of the key players in the so-called Red Knights group, a collective of "high net worth individuals" who work in the City, confirmed their intention to try to oust the owners. The Red Knights will try to persuade the Glazers to accept an offer of around £1billion but the latest financial figures should persuade the Americans they could get much more for the club. The figures for the six months up to December show turnover up 19% to £144.7million from £121.7million for the equivalent period in 2008. The club's debt dropped from £538.1million to £507.5million and there were increases recorded in matchday revenues, TV money - particularly from the Champions League - and commercial revenue. Media revenues have increased 33% from £40.3million to £53.4million and commercial revenues are up 16% from £33.5million to £38.7million. The figures will not be particularly welcome to the Red Knights, who include Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill - the one-time friend of Sir Alex Ferguson who is acting in a personal capacity - plus lawyer Mark Rawlinson and merchant banker Keith Harris. Angered by United's debts - the total debt of Red Football Ltd, the Glazers' holding company for United, was registered at £716.5million at the start of the year - the Red Knights held a meeting in London on Monday and will now look at formulating a plan to raise more than £1billion. "We can confirm that a group of high net worth individuals, who support Manchester United (known as the 'Red Knights'), met in London yesterday," a statement released on behalf of the Red Knights read. "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. "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." As a starting measure, the Red Knights are urging supporters to join the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), who have been vehemently opposed to the Glazers from day one and have been behind the 'green and gold' campaign that has seen large numbers of fans wearing the colours of United's forerunners Newton Heath. MUST have 55,000 registered members and have set a target of achieving 100,000 members through the campaign. Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of MUST, said the group had been in discussions with the Red Knights for some time. Drasdo said: "The Red Knights group coming out is exceptionally positive for supporters who want to see a change of ownership. "All Manchester United supporters should now seize this opportunity with both hands and say they want a change of ownership. "It's not boycotts or protests, I would call this a movement for change and, rather than being unsettling, I think the green and gold campaign has been tremendously positive in terms of the attitude in the stands."

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