Ferguson boosts opposition to Glazer takeover campaign

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson has made it clear that he does not want Malcolm Glazer to buy Manchester United, telling a fans' forum: "We don't want the club to be in anyone else's hands."

Sir Alex Ferguson has made it clear that he does not want Malcolm Glazer to buy Manchester United, telling a fans' forum: "We don't want the club to be in anyone else's hands."

Ferguson's stance is the latest blow for Glazer, whose hopes of a takeover have been seriously damaged in recent weeks and who now knows he is unwanted by United's board, supporters or influential manager.

One minor danger for Ferguson in speaking out, however, is that his own position could be thrown into doubt if Glazer does somehow manage to take control at Old Trafford.

Ferguson made his comments in response to a supporter's question in a Q&A session to mark his 1,000th game as United's manager, tomorrow's Champions' League match with Lyon.

While he did not mention Glazer by name, he made it clear that he stands shoulder to shoulder with fans in opposing a takeover. "I have always tried to be the bridge between the club and the fans," he said. "I have tried to support the fans in a lot of their pleas and causes. It's important for the club to recognise the fans. We are a special club in that respect."

United's fans have been vocal in opposing any bid by Glazer, the 76-year-old American whose 28 per cent stake in the club makes him United's second largest shareholder.

Even Glazer's initial bid tactic of making it public that he was a big admirer of Ferguson failed to win him much, if any, support. His increasingly hostile approach, including voting three directors off the United board 10 days ago at the annual general meeting, has only caused him to be further vilified.

Though Ferguson said that he had "grave doubts" about United becoming a plc back in 1991, he clearly prefers the status quo to the idea of a single, all-powerful owner.

"There is a stronger rapport between the club and the fans than there has ever been," he said. "We are both of a common denominator; we don't want the club to be in anyone else's hands. That is the way that the club stands with that. I support that."

Glazer's options are limited. He was dumped by his bankers, JP Morgan, in the wake of his AGM antics, and has yet to find alternative backers. His original plan involved heavy borrowing to buy United and it is increasingly unlikely he will find funds on that basis.

Any realistic chance of success would also depend on access to United's books to perform due diligence. United's board has refused access so far, and rebuffed one bid based on big loans.

Glazer could request a seat on the board - and hence access to the books - but has yet to push the point.

It has been reported that United's chief executive, David Gill, might offer a place on the board in return for a guarantee that Glazer will not bid for at least a year.

More likely is a dialogue if a request comes first, but Ferguson's stance is not unrepresentative of the boardroom.

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