Man Utd: Red Knights takeover attempt shelved

  • Published
Old Trafford stadium
Image caption,
Manchester United said last week that it was not for sale

The Red Knights group of wealthy supporters mulling a takeover of Manchester United has put plans to make a bid for the club on hold.

The group said media speculation of "inflated valuation aspirations" had hampered its plans.

It added that it had always maintained it would only pay a sensible price for Manchester United.

Last week, United reiterated it was not for sale and that the Glazer family owners would not listen to offers.

Price limit

The Glazer family bought Manchester United for £800m in 2005.

However, critics say the family has saddled the club with massive debts. In the last annual accounts, to July 2009, debts at the club's parent company Red Football Joint Venture increased to £716.5m.

The Red Knights group - which includes the former Football League chairman Keith Harris and Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill - had said that one of its priorities was to reduce debt levels.

Image caption,
Fans who want the Glazers out have switched to wearing green and gold

The group had been expected to make a bid of about £1bn for United, however reports have suggested that the Glazer family put a much higher value on the club.

Last week, Manchester United said the club was not for sale and that the Glazer family owners would "not entertain any offers", adding that the Glazers remained "fully committed to their long-term ownership of the club".

In a statement, the Red Knights said that it remained committed to pursuing its efforts "to try and help bring ownership of Manchester United to its supporters, and under a structure with materially less debt".

"As we have maintained however since news of our ambitions first emerged in March, we will only attempt to purchase the club at a sensible price, consistent with the long term interests of the club," the group added.

"Persistent speculation in the media of inflated valuation aspirations has made our goals less attainable, as potential investors have strongly reinforced our views that we should not move forward at a price uneconomic for the future of the club."

Season tickets

Manchester United fans have launched a campaign to oust the Glazers, with many boycotting the traditional red shirts and scarves and instead wearing green and gold, the original colours of Newton Heath, the amateur side which was founded in 1878 and became Manchester United.

There has also been talk of supporters not renewing season tickets, in an attempt to hit revenue streams at the club.

The Manchester United Supporters Trust, which has backed the Red Knights' campaign, said last month that it had not called for a boycott.

However, it added it was "encouraging supporters to delay renewal of season tickets and executive facilities until at least the first deadline and ideally until a Red Knight bid comes forward".

"If the Glazers reject a bid or indeed are still here next season we will review that position accordingly," it added.

The trust also said it believed the Red Knights had not totally walked away, but were waiting for the price of Manchester United to fall.

"We understand the intention of the statement from the Red Knights is to remove the time deadline pressure and set more realistic expectations with regard to a bid," the trust said.

In its statement, the Red Knights group said: "We understand that many supporters were hoping that we might be in a position to make a bid before the season ticket renewal deadline.

"We have never taken a stance on season ticket renewals, it is a personal choice for all supporters."

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