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Glazer takes control of Man Utd.

Big T

Oct 1, 2002
Dirty Money
Manchester United have been plunged into turmoil as Malcolm Glazer's £790million takeover dream moved within touching distance of becoming reality.
The American effectively seized control with the shock confirmation that John Magnier and JP McManus had accepted Glazer's £3 per share offer and sold their 28.9% stake.

Even as United supporters arrived at Old Trafford in their droves to protest at Glazer's involvement, news filtered through that another key shareholder Harry Dobson had opted to cash in his 6% stake.

It is now thought Glazer has netted more than 112 million shares in the club, taking his own personal stake to 70%.

A clause in the original proposals, which forced Glazer to secure 75% of the club's shares in order for JP Morgan to fund a bid has now been scrapped, leaving the 78-year-old free to garner the remainder at will.

And though he will not formally lodge his bid until tomorrow morning, it is now inevitable he will get total control.

Some of the more militant United fans were accepting the battle for ownership is almost over.

The renewed threat of a breakaway club has already been raised, while other strategies, such as a boycott of season tickets and club merchandise are sure to be on the horizon.

Of more immediate interest is the reaction of the United board, who were locked in meetings at Old Trafford, refusing to make any public statement on the latest development.

Given they have previously described Glazer's proposals as 'aggressive' and 'potentially damaging', it is difficult to see how they can be any part of an American buy-out, with chief executive David Gill and chairman Sir Roy Gardner looking particularly vulnerable.

The position of Sir Alex Ferguson will also need to be clarified as a matter of utmost urgency.

It has previously been suggested by the Glazer camp that Ferguson is seen as an essential component in any deal and the Scot is expected to receive a £25million transfer `war chest' should he extend his 18 year stay with the Red Devils.

That is far from certain however. Ferguson has previously spoken out against any attempt to delist the club from the Stock Market and at 63, the most successful manager English football has ever known may decide he does not want to be part of the Glazer revolution.

While the loss of Gill, and his vast depth of knowledge of the United operation, would be a blow, Ferguson's departure would be a PR catastrophe for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner.

Already, major question marks have been raised as to how Glazer will squeeze greater profits from the Old Trafford machine than it currently generates.

It is estimated Glazer has had to borrow in excess of £300million to seal the deal, so he will need far more than the vastly-reduced £12.4million half-year profits announced in March.

United's second successive third place Premiership finish has already ensured there will be no major increase in Champions League income next season, so attention will turn to the current Premier League TV contract.

It is widely acknowledged that United - with their vast army of global supporters - could make far more by pursuing their own TV deals.

However, this could only be done through legal channels as the Old Trafford club are currently bound by Premier League rules, which require a two-thirds majority to change.

Documents will be released to the remaining shareholders at some point next week, detailing Glazer's £3 per share offer, although it is not thought, as yet, either Malcolm, or sons Joel and Avi, have any immediate plans to head to the United Kingdom.

Predictably, the major fans' groups who have campaigned so extensively against Glazer are aghast at today's news, with the blame being pinned on Magnier and McManus, who it had been reported would not sell at the price offered.

Around 1,000 United fans had descended on Old Trafford by 6pm, and Shareholders United vice-chairman Oliver Houston said: 'We feel completely betrayed by John Magnier and JP McManus.

'They said they were long term investors but they have taken the 30 pieces of silver offered by Malcolm Glazer.

'But we will not give up the fight just yet. There will be no shaking of the hands on this one.

'We warned Glazer a long time ago that no customers means no profit and he is about to see how much strength supporters at this club do have.'

Jules Spencer, chairman of the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association, added: 'If this is to be the end then we will go down kicking and screaming.

'And if he (Glazer) does get control then we will do what we said, which is up sticks and form a new club which will continue the traditions and heritage and the legacy of 125 years of Manchester United.

'We don't want Malcolm Glazer, we want a club run for the fans - and that is what we will do.'

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