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Red Knights claim progression in talks
Published : 20 May 2010 10:48:00
A Red Knights source claims talks are "progressing very positively" regarding their proposed takeover of Manchester United. Getting in excess of 40 wealthy individuals to not only put their money to such an ambitious project, but also agree a unified plan of attack was always likely to be fraught with difficulty. Led by leading investment banker and former United director Jim O'Neill, the Red Knights have been inching towards lodging a formal bid for United, which had been anticipated prior to the World Cup's opening game on June 11. Suggestions that the whole scheme is doomed to failure have wrong-footed some senior figures within the Red Knights, who have privately claimed that the past fortnight has been quite a productive period for the group. There have been problems to overcome, not least the volcanic ash cloud that delayed crucial meetings, but there remains an optimism the bid will eventually arrive, even if the Red Knights are eager not to constrain themselves to a timescale. "Talks have been going better than ever and are progressing very positively," confirmed a Red Knights source. However, even if the attempt to dampen down the impact of the latest gloomy reports succeeds, it does not tackle the fundamental point, namely that the Glazers have repeatedly insisted they are not interested in a sale. The Red Knights had hoped the sheer scale of the visual green and gold protest against the club's owners, allied to a call not to renew season tickets, would nudge the Glazers in the direction of selling the club, which is now saddled with debts in excess of £700million. Yet there is no actual sign this is the case. On the contrary, in announcing another sponsorship deal earlier this week, United were able to trumpet a turnover in excess of £200million from their London-based commercial arm alone. As chief executive David Gill confirmed earlier this week that sales of season tickets were in line with previous years, it is hard to see why the Glazers would sell at this stage, having only just gone through the process of raising £500million through a controversial bond issue, the small print of which caused such a stir.