Red Knights happy to bide their time
Manchester United's anti-Glazer lobby claim they are happy to wait for the asking price to fall before the Red Knights make their bid. The Red Knights on Wednesday confirmed their plans were on hold, straight-jacketed by a valuation in excess of £1.5billion and the Glazers' refusal to sell. It dashes any hope of a quick removal of the controversial Americans, who have attracted huge criticism for the debt incurred during their 2005 takeover. However, rather than adopt a negative stance, the Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST) believe now it is just a question of waiting for the economic situation to worsen. "We understand the intention of the statement from the Red Knights is to remove the time deadline pressure and set more realistic expectations with regard to a bid," said MUST. "There is no rush - the pressure is building on the Glazers with matchday revenues declining and the need for huge investment in the playing squad over the next few seasons, especially when Sir Alex (Ferguson) retires. "There is increasingly fierce competition both domestically and in Europe especially from Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona, along with new challenges even for Champions League qualification coming from Spurs and Manchester City. "This will increase competition for the best players and consequently the costs associated with maintaining the club's current position and revenues." It was expected the Red Knights group would launch a formal bid for the Old Trafford outfit at some point before the World Cup. However, the Glazer family last week stated they had no intention of selling the club and previous claims the American owners had rejected a £1.5billion bid from a Far East consortium already seem to have led to a belief amongst the Red Knights there is little point making a substantially lower offer that was also certain to be rejected. "The Red Knights remain committed to pursuing their efforts to try and help bring ownership of Manchester United to its supporters, and under a structure with materially less debt," said a statement released on behalf of the group. "As we have maintained however since news of our ambitions first emerged in March, we will only attempt to purchase the club at a sensible price, consistent with the long-term interests of the club. "Persistent speculation in the media of inflated valuation aspirations has made our goals less attainable, as potential investors have strongly reinforced our views that we should not move forward at a price uneconomic for the future of the club." It effectively means the Red Knights will not move forward until they get an indication United would be sold for around £1billion, a sum they believe is realistic given current market conditions. So far, MUST have not called for a boycott of season tickets and other club merchandise in an effort to damage revenue streams and undermine the Glazers' business plan, although it is expected. Whether this would have any effect is another matter. United chief executive David Gill recently claimed season ticket sales were roughly in line with previous years and the club's satellite London-based commercial arm recently topped £200million in new deals alone. With American insurance giant Aon about to begin a four-year shirt sponsorship deal, there is no sign of a reduction of United's pulling power, even though they ended last term with only the Carling Cup as silverware, having missed out on both the Premier League and Champions League trophies. Club officials have repeatedly stressed Sir Alex Ferguson has the funds to strengthen his squad this summer, although so far, the only arrivals are Mexican striker Javier Hernandez and Fulham defender Chris Smalling, both of whom have been bought with an eye on the future. "We understand that many supporters were hoping that we might be in a position to make a bid before the season ticket renewal deadline," continued the Red Knights' statement. "However, our approach is best served by long-term interests of all. We have never taken a stance on season ticket renewals, it is a personal choice for all supporters. "We have spent some considerable time assessing the value of the club. "If the fundamentals lead to a more realistic re-assessment then, along with our co-operation with MUST and other Manchester United supporters, we will aim to achieve our goals."
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