Fans’ bid for United looks doomed to fail

Steve Dinneen
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THE highly anticipated “Red Knights” bid for Manchester United appears to have all but fizzled out after the wealthy group of investors admitted they will not meet the owners’ valuation of the club.

The Red Knights have privately said a bid will not be imminent after it became clear they are not willing to match the £1.5bn price tag the Glazer family is understood to be holding out for.

Sources close to the group, led by Goldman Sachs banker, Jim O’Neill, say they will continue to monitor the situation – in particular the finances of the Glazers, which are said to be precarious.

Keith Harris, head of Seymour Pierce, told City A.M. the Knights will not be making a formal statement.

The Knights, said to number as many as 60, have held a series of meetings over the last three months to thrash out the details of a potential bid.

They have each agreed to pledge a slice of their sizable fortunes totalling £750m. Ordinary fans were expected to stump up £250m. The consortium was planning to keep the club’s £500m bond issue in place.

However, reports have emerged about ruptures within the group over the valuation of the club and the way it would be run.

Other City figures behind the fans’ revolt include former Centrica boss Sir Roy Gardner; Paul Marshall, founder of the London hedge fund Marshall Wace; Mark Rawlinson, of law firm Freshfields and Richard Hytner, from Saatchi & Saatchi.

The news comes just days after United released its quarterly results that showed revenue at the club is up 13.5 per cent to £219.3m.

The club’s debt was trimmed from £534.3 to £520.9 in the three month period. The club has net assets of £794.9m and a cash balance of £95.9m.