“The club is not for sale” is the response to a hostile takeover bid by the Glazer camp! Surprise, surprise! Did anyone expect any other? It’s the typical statement made by any business facing a determined bid for a buyout. The expectation among fans is that finally, there is some light on the horizon. The call for “Game On” has been made.
Hopes are high amongst red fans that this is the start, a tentative first step towards finally getting rid of a family who has turned a well run, debt free, highly successful club into the most indebted one in the Premier League.
A meeting of the Red Knights, a group of wealthy United fans want to free the club from the grasp of the Glazer family. Their plans for a takeover bid are at an embryonic stage and it is not clear that they will ever be able to mount a successful offer.
Keith Harris, the Knights’ founder and millionaire chairman of Seymour Pierce, the stockbroking firm, and a lifelong United fan, believes the meeting was a first solid step towards a Glazer free future at Old Trafford.
Another one of the financiers is Jim O’Neill who briefly served as a director at Old Trafford and is a friend of Sir Alex Ferguson. O’Neill has criticised the Glazer family for their recent £500 million bond issue. He is also a respected City figure although it is understood that his bank is not involved with the Red Knights.
To be fair to the Glazers however, there IS another viewpoint, one that on the surface is difficult to dispute. In less than five years of their ownership, the club has won seven trophies, including three Premier League titles, two Carling Cups and the European Cup.
It’s an undoubtedly positive contrast when compared with three trophies in the five years before they bought the club.
On the other hand, the question of “At what cost” cannot be ignored. Debts have spiralled out of control and United’s first bond issue, which the owners introduced to raise £500 million in investment, fell flat with analysts saying it had become one of the market’s worst performers this year.
Hefty increases in match ticket prices have also led to claims that up to 20,000 season ticket holders have allowed their membership to lapse since the Glazers took over.
This story will run for quite some time, £billion business deals are never completed overnight yet one can still remember the screaming headlines running this time last year which may be an indication of what lies ahead.
“Glazers would sit Ronaldo in the stands rather than sell him” That was the response until they saw the colour of £80 sitting on the table. The end result was…?
The vast majority of an estimated 50 million Manchester United worldwide fans have their fingers tightly crossed that the outcome will again be the same. The game is about to begin, bring it on!
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