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Red Knights bid imminent

Steve Dinneen
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THE structure for an audacious fan-backed bid for Manchester United has been finalised, paving the way for a formal offer as soon as next month.

A group of wealthy City financiers desperate to take control of the club from the Glazer family thrashed out details of their £1.25bn bid last week and will now present their strategy to investors.

It is understood a core group of “Red Knights” will lay out their plan to 50 high-powered fans of the Old Trafford club this week in a bid to raise an initial £500m.

A further £250m share issue to fans will follow. It is understood a £500m bond issue taken out by the Glazers would remain in place.

The bid would represent a healthy return on the investment made by the Glazers. They have publicly stated the club is not for sale and they will not field any bids. However it is thought a sizeable offer will persuade them to exit the club, at which they have become hate figures for many fans. The Glazers are understood to have instructed Rothschild to keep a subtle eye on the developments. The Red Knights have instructed Japanese investment bank Nomura to advise them on the complex deal.

The Red Knights are keen to table their bid before the World Cup kicks off in June.

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 Freshfields, Nomura banker Guy Dawson and Richard Hytner, from Saatchi & Saatchi.

The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (Must) has promised to step up its anti-Glazer campaign in the final games of the season, which has seen swathes of fans adopt the green and gold colours of United’s forerunner club Newton Heath.

Must hopes as many as 15,000 fans will forgo their season tickets next season if the offer is rejected in a bid to further unsettle the Glazers.