By Nick Harris
26 March 2010
The Red Knights group that has ambitions to buy Manchester United from the Glazer family has this morning issued a statement saying it does not expect to finalise its proposal for any bid for the club this season.
The aim of group, led by the United fan and Goldman Sachs economist, Jim O’Neill, is to persuade a band of super-rich United fans to join together to buy the club, then spread ownership among the wider fan base.
Speculation about an offer has been mounting for weeks, but it was never going to be the case that a bid would materialise soon. Acknowledging that fact, the Knights have released today’s statement via their City PR firm, hoping, as one source put it, to “take the heat out of immediate expectations.”
As things stand, the Glazers say they don’t want to sell the club anyway. Any bid would need to be well in excess of the £1.3bn valuation Forbes put on the club last year, and for the Knights to raise such money, and put in place a practical plan to execute a group buyout, it will take some time.
The Knights’ statement says: “Our press release on 2 March confirmed that a group of individual Manchester United supporters had met the day before to consider the feasibility of putting together a proposal to the Glazer family regarding the ownership of Manchester United.
“We stated that for 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 were at our first meeting on 2 March. They remain closely involved with our plans. In that first statement, we added that any new ownership model would aim to put supporters at the heart of the club.
“On 12 March we involved Nomura as our adviser. Since then they have been speaking to and meeting many potential Red Knights who have contacted us since our interest was made public. These potential Red Knights have offered ideas and support and with the help of this input, our plans have been developed further.
“In the next few weeks we will continue to work on our proposal. We do not expect this to be finalised before the end of the current football season. This will have the advantage of minimising external distractions as the team enters the decisive period of the season.”
Heard the one about the Victorian walker who showed the medical world the benefits of cocaine?