Red Knights call on Manchester United fans to show support for takeover
The discussions, which are in their early stages, are being led by football deal broker Keith Harris, chairman of investment bankers Seymour Pierce, and Jim O'Neill, chief economist at Goldman Sachs. It would take around £1 billion pounds to buy the United, and the Glazers have consistently insisted the debt-ridden club is not for sale. "A group of high net worth individuals, who support Manchester United, met in London yesterday," said a Red Knights statement. "This group is supportive of current management but are looking at the feasibility of putting together a proposal to be put to the Glazer Family regarding the ownership of Manchester United. These discussions are in early stages and no contact has been made with the Glazer Family. Related ArticlesProfile: 'Red Knight' Jim O'NeillUnited fans should be careful what they wish forUnited drop to third in rich listOwen content to stay in Rooney's shadowNeville: Rooney is no England greatRooney struts his stuff"For such a proposal to be viable, it would require the involvement and support of Manchester United supporters worldwide. The Red Knights have been liaising with the Manchester United Supporters Trust ('MUST') and their representatives attended yesterday's meeting. As a first step, the Red Knights want supporters to demonstrate their commitment by joining the free online membership of the Supporters Trust www.joinmust.org. "Any new ownership model would aim not only to put the Club on a sound financial footing, but would also aim to put the supporters at the heart of everything the Club does. In the coming weeks the Red Knights will continue to work with MUST and others to formulate our proposal and further statements will be issued in due course." O'Neill is a lifelong United supporter and a staunch critic of the levels of debt — currently £716.5 million taken on by the Glazers. Harris, another United supporter and former chairman of the Football League, is not believed to have been at the meeting, but he admitted in January that 'if we can lend our weight to doing something for the good of Manchester United, and for football, we will'. Other City figures, including Paul Marshall, a partner at the hedge fund Marshall Wace, are supporting the Red Knights and Richard Hytner of advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi, are also reportedly involved. Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of MUST, said: "I can confirm that we were present at the 'secret' meeting of the Red Knight Group yesterday and have been involved in discussions for some time. "This development is hugely welcome as there is a genuine desire to see a change of ownership at Manchester United. "Initially the Red Knight Group has effectively set a challenge to Manchester United supporters to demonstrate they wish to see an alternative ownership proposal developed. "In the first instance supporters are being asked to do this simply by joining the free online membership of the Supporters Trust (MUST) and swelling its ranks to an initial target of at least 100,000. "It is also essential for a majority of two key groups, the Old Trafford season ticket holders and those with executive facilities, to show their appetite for participation by joining the MUST online campaign."
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