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Jim O'Neill: Profile of Manchester United's Red Knight
Published : 02 Mar 2010 13:46:43
O'Neill, a lifelong United fan, was among those present at yesterday's meeting of the Red Knights Group. He is Goldman Sachs' chief economist. That position - and O'Neill's reputation - makes him one of the world's most sought-after economic commentators. But his background is unusually modest for man with such professional influence. Related ArticlesAnalysis: the worry for Man Utd is O'Neill is usually rightRed Knights want fans' supportMan Utd fans should buy the club, says hedge fund starPoints not profits is currency of footballUnited fans should be careful what they wish forMan Utd opens window on murky world of leveraged buy-outsO'Neill grew up in Gatley in Manchester, the son of a postman. More keen on football than the classroom, he turned down a place at private school purely because it didn't play the game. Instead he went to Burnage Comprehensive, whose alumni include Noel and Liam Gallagher. From there he went to Sheffield University to study geography and economics. He dropped the geography, concentrated on playing football and going to the pub, but still shone at economics. It was also during these years that he developed a love for Manchester United, eventually becoming a non-executive director and investor in the club, prior to the takeover by the Glazer family in 2005. O'Neill went public with his concerns about United's financial position earlier this year, at a time when the Glazer family were seeking new means to decrease the club's debt repayments. "There's too much leverage going on with Manchester United," said O'Neill, who appeared to have been caught off-guard when quizzed on the bond issue by Zijing Wu, a Bloomberg reporter, at the end of an eight-minute interview on China's currency policy. "I value my long-term support for Manchester United better than anything else," he added. O'Neill's comments raised eyebrows because Goldman Sachs was among the advisers on the bond issue.