Football: Fans gear up for round two of ownership battle

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The Independent Online
WHATEVER ELSE Friday's decision brought - and there is plenty of discussion still to come about it - it was certainly not the end of the Manchester United takeover saga.

No sooner had the BSkyB deal been blocked than the Shareholders United Against Murdoch group were planning the next stage of the campaign. "This is by no means the end of the matter," said their spokesman Michael Crick, "and we've got to do something about the ownership of the club. "We're calling for an urgent meeting with the board to discuss what their plans are. If possible we would like to see a trust set up to combine all the shareholders to ensure the future independence of the club.

"There are 28,000 fans who are shareholders at the minute and a lot more who would like to be. If everybody could buy, say, 1,000 shares that would have a huge impact. This, though, could only be done with the co-operation of the board."

Co-operation was not the immediate thought of the vice-chairman of the Manchester United Supporters Association, Steve Briscoe, who called for the immediate departure of the club's chief executive, Martin Edwards. "If he really does want to make pounds 80m, he must sell his shares to the people that care - the fans. And then he must go for the sake of our once great club," Briscoe said. "He has made it obvious that he wants rid of the club. I fail to see how Edwards can command any respect from within the football industry and especially from the shareholders.

On a wider front, the Football Supporters' Association called for the Government to follow through Friday's decision. "This case clearly demonstrates that in the face of multi-national media conglomerates, football's traditional regulatory structures are impotent," said their spokeswoman, Alison Pilling.

"The Government must bring in legislation to protect our game for future generations, which we will push for through the Football Task Force."