Guy Dawson joins up with Red Knights

Steve Dinneen
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CITY stalwart Guy Dawson will advise a string of wealthy backers on their bid to wrest control of Manchester United.

The Nomura banker, who sold his Tricorn Partners advisory firm to the Japanese bank and now works there, will advise a group of United fans who plan to buy the club for £1.25bn.

Dawson advised the United board when the Glazers took control in 2005. The move is the most serious indication yet that a bid could be forthcoming.

The City figures behind the fans’ revolt include former Centrica boss Sir Roy Gardner; Jim O’Neill, chief economist at Goldman Sachs; Keith Harris head of Seymour Pierce; Paul Marshall, founder of the London hedge fund Marshall Wace; Mark Rawlinson, of law firm Freshfields and Richard Hytner, from Saatchi & Saatchi.

But a source close to the Knights sounded a note of caution yesterday. He told City A.M. the growing complexity of the deal means it could take months to put together a meaningful bid.

He also said the Glazers would almost certainly not engage them there is evidence the fans are willing to forgo their beloved season tickets in protest. The Red Knights and the Manchester United Supporters Trust hope 15,000 will decline to renew tickets this year.

The Red Knights believe it will take £1.25bn to force the Glazers around the table. This would include an estimated £750m handed to the maligned owners, almost trebling the £272m they paid for the club. The rest of the value was absorbed as debt.

The Knights, now said to number as many as 60, will each pledge a slice of their sizable fortunes totalling £750m. Ordinary fans will be expected to stump up £250m. The consortium will keep the club’s £500m bond issue in place.