Glazer faces NFL grilling over conflicts posed by United deal

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The Independent Online

America's National Football League is to grill Malcolm Glazer at its spring meeting this week over his £790m acquisition of Manchester United.

Mr Glazer already owns American Football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The NFL is keen to establish whether his deal to buy the Premiership club conflicts with his ownership of the Bucs.

Greg Aiello, a vice president of the NFL, said of Mr Glazer's acquisition of United: "It is something that our finance committee is interested in taking a look at to better understand." The NFL does not have the power to block the purchase of United, but any unhappiness with the transatlantic acquisition could make life difficult for Mr Glazer in the US.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the finance committee, on which Mr Glazer sits, prior to a two-day meeting of the NFL this week.

The league has stringent financial rules because teams share revenues. Mr Aiello said the NFL was interested in reviewing the United deal with the Glazer family because they were "business partners" with the 31 other team owners.

The NFL will want to know whether the Glazer family plan is to keep the Buccaneers or to sell it. They may also want to know if they intend to focus investment on new players and marketing for United, which could be at the expense of the Bucs.

The American league, like many United shareholders and fans, is waiting to see the details of the Glazers' offer in their formal offer document, which will be published this week.

Under NFL rules, owners are allowed to borrow a maximum of $125m (£68.5m) against their team. It is not clear whether the Glazers are using any of their borrowing ability to finance the United deal.

United fans have raised concerns about the amount of money that the Glazers are borrowing to fund the £790m purchase of United. The offer document should make it clearer how much interest they will have to pay on the borrowings.

Separately, it has emerged that the Glazers may set up a team to play in America's soccer league, creating "Manchester United USA". Mexico's largest football team, Chivas Rayadas del Guadalajara, already has a Chivas USA in the American league. Glazer's team could play at one of the three Major League stadiums dedicated to soccer in the US, with three more set to be built.

With more airtime and more games actually being played, the Glazer family should be able to sell fans more shirts and other merchandise.

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