By Nick Harris
2 June 2010
The Red Knights group of super-rich Manchester United fans who want to take control of the club from the Glazer family have released a statement this morning confirming their ongoing interest, as sportingintelligence reported first yesterday that they would do.
In a less than spectacular endorsement of the early fanfare that greeted the group’s approach for United however, the Knights apparently blame the media for “inflated valuation aspirations” around the club. Or in other words, the Knights appear to be saying that because the media have covered their campaign, and that of the Manchester United Supporters Trust, the price of United has shot up and they now cannot afford to bid.
Critics would argue that is plain nonsense and they simply haven’t got their act together after months of hype largely driven by the Knights and MUST.
Supporters of the Knights and MUST would argue the “inflated valuation” is a legitimate excuse in as much as the Knights’ interest has forced United and the Glazers into a PR battle that has led to a value of around £1.5bn now being fixed in many minds as a realistic starting price for United. The Knights would pay no more than £1.2bn.
The statement released this morning says: “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. 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.
“We understand that many supporters were hoping that we might be in a position to make a bid before the season ticket renewal deadline. 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.”
MUST and other fans will say this proves the Knights, led by Goldman Sachs’ chief economist Jim O’Neill, remain serious players who will eventually oversee a fan-led buyout. Skeptics will say the Knights and MUST have talked the talk but failed to back it up with any real action.
Until a firm bid is in place, and funded, the Knights and MUST – responsible for the incredibly popular green and gold campaign – will almost certainly find themselves being taken less seriously from now on.
The Glazer family insist the club is not for sale anyway.