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Man Utd 'Fan' group to 'push boundaries of the law'

Thu 22nd Apr 2010 | Clubs Ownership

The Guardian reports that a group of Manchester United fans describing themselves as "prepared to push the boundaries of the law" has published a leaked list of more than 400 companies that pay for hospitality facilities at Old Trafford and called for them not to put any more money into the club until the Glazer family have indicated they are willing to relinquish their ownership.

United Supporters for Change (USC) says it was provided with the list with "the assistance of senior employees who oppose the Glazer family's asset-stripping of our club". The club have not made any public comment but have launched an internal inquiry amid concerns the companies may feel intimidated because of previous cases when militant fans have targeted firms with links to the Glazers.

Although the USC describes itself as "a non-violent direct action group", the protests against the Glazers have already led to the Manchester offices of AIG, United's shirt sponsor, being vandalised and a number of other incidents, including protestors storming the Nike store in Manchester city centre.

Individual box-holders have been edited out of the list, published on a supporters' website, but the companies are named "to encourage these organisations to recognise their unique position and responsibilities at this crucial point in Manchester United's history".

Executive and hospitality income represents around half of the match-day revenue at Old Trafford and, in a statement, the USC urged the companies, the majority of whom are north-west based, to help drive out the Glazers by withdrawing financial support until the Americans say they are open to the idea of severing ties with the club.

"We believe the vast majority of the individuals who purchase these facilities for their companies are supporters and wish the best for the club," the statement said. "We are sure that they, as much as normal match-going supporters, are sickened by the asset-stripping by the Glazer family and wish to see the club return to being an efficient, commercially run sporting organisation."

The Red Knights, the consortium of wealthy supporters led by the former United director Jim O'Neill who are hoping to take control at Old Trafford, are in the process of putting together a potential offer to the Glazers, but it is a measure of the difficulties they face that the Premier League champions are, once again, at the top of the Forbes list of the world's 20 most valuable football clubs, published tonight.

While sources close to the Red Knights indicated recently a takeover could be valued at £800m, Forbes values United at £1.19bn.

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