Glazer opens talks with Irish as United fans revolt

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The Independent Online

Malcolm Glazer, the US sports tycoon trying to buy Manchester United, has begun talks with the club's biggest shareholder .

Malcolm Glazer, the US sports tycoon trying to buy Manchester United, has begun talks with the club's biggest shareholder and plans to tell investors that the club's performance on the pitch will be significantly enhanced by being a private company, free of the distractions of public company status.

The Glazer camp has opened talks with Cubic Expression, the investment vehicle of JP McManus and John Magnier, the Irish racing tycoons. Cubic Expression owns 28.9 per cent of the Old Trafford club. It is thought that Mr Glazer and his family, advised by JP Morgan, intend to tell Cubic Expression and Manchester United's fans that the club will be more stable financially as a private company and will still receive the necessary investment funds to compete in the transfer market.

City sources say Mr Glazer believes that Manchester United can be an even more powerful force in football if free of the need for half-yearly reporting and the financing constraints that public companies must observe, and that the club can benefit in a similar way to Chelsea, owned by the free-spending Roman Abramovich.

Mr Glazer also believes there is potentially substantial future value from the club selling its own media rights. The Glazers' bid will be funded by the family's equity and debt provided by a banking syndicate led by JP Morgan.

However, the club's supporters have already begun a campaign to oppose the Glazers' takeover plans. Shareholders United, whose members own 1.4 per cent of the club, hopes to raise the amount of shares it speaks for to 10 per cent and is mobilising the fans who together account for about 17 per cent of Manchester United's shareholder base. The organisation wants to persuade individual shareholders to pledge not to sell their shares to the Glazers.

Maurice Watkins, a director of the club and the biggest individual shareholder on the board with 1.9 per cent, had red paint daubed on his Jaguar car on Monday night by angry fans. His wife's Audi TT was also attacked at their home near Stockport.

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