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Red Knights step up their bid to buy Man Utd

Mon 12th Apr 2010 | Clubs Ownership

More than 40 wealthy investors stand ready to put their money into the bid to buy Manchester United being planned by the Red Knights group of entrepreneurs as reported in the Observer newspaper.

The Red Knights are said to have been meeting weekly at the London offices of financial adviser Nomura to hammer out the final details of the bid. They are now deciding whether to have 50 investors paying £10 million each, or fewer investors paying more per head, in a £500 million contribution to the £1.25 billion deal. The rest of the bid will be made up from securities issued to Manchester United fans, raising £250 million, and the £500 million bond which the club issued earlier this year and the new buyers plan to retain.

The investment team's plan is to eventually hand ownership of the club back to the fans, in the mould of Spanish club Barcelona, which is owned by 100,000 “socios”, or club members. But the Red Knights admit they will have a tough task working out a structure for the deal that will satisfy the “egos and testosterone” of the investors queuing up to back the bid. The vision of Jim O'Neill, the economist leading the Red Knights, is that the investment will be an act of altruism, delivering only a small return.

Manchester United's current owners the American Glazer family still say the club is not for sale. But The Observer quoted Philip Long, a partner at accountancy firm PKF, as saying “It will be [for sale] – everything's always for sale.”

“The model at the moment isn't profitable unless they sell players. The club can't continue making the losses it's made.”

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