Sir Roland Smith, the City professor, dies

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The Independent Online

Professor Sir Roland Smith, a respected figure in the City and a former Manchester United chairman, has died.

Sir Roland, who was 75, was renowned for his ability to juggle a variety of directorships and sat on 11 boards in 1990. At one time he was chairman of seven companies. Apart from his United board seat, he served on the boards of the Bank of England and Equitable Life and was chairman during the turbulent times at British Aerospace in the early 1990s.

He was also chairman of the store group House of Fraser during the battle for control of Harrods in the 1980s, famously telling the tycoon, Tiny Rowland, to "get your tanks off my lawn".

As chairman of Manchester United, Sir Roland presided over the club's flotation on the stock market in 1991, through a series of the most important television rights deals in British football history, and during the unsuccessful £625m takeover bid for the club by BSkyB in 1998. The Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, paid tribute to his "great ally" saying, "his understanding of my role was terrific and I benefited enormously from his wisdom and shrewdness".

Sir Roland was a leading academic and a former chancellor of UMIST, having first joined the university in 1966. Last year, the chief executive of Hornby, Frank Martin, named Sir Roland as his biggest influence saying "I found him inspirational and I've put a lot of his ideas into practice".