Glazer could still pull out of United bid, says insider

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The Independent Football

Malcolm Glazer's much anticipated formal bid for Manchester United might never actually happen, a source close to the proposed deal said yesterday.

Malcolm Glazer's much anticipated formal bid for Manchester United might never actually happen, a source close to the proposed deal said yesterday.

While stressing that "a bid is still more likely than no bid", the source said there is now "a possibility" that the American businessman, 76, might concede that he will never gain ownership of the club and instead start looking for an exit strategy.

The admission represents the first occasion that there has been any flicker of doubt that Glazer will press ahead with his plans.

"Even if things go swimmingly well [with the ongoing work on the bid], it could be a good couple of weeks before there's definitive movement," the source said.

The best-case scenario for Glazer is a meeting between his and United's advisors late next week, and then a protracted debate with the United board to try to gain an official recommendation for a 300p-a-share offer.

The worst-case scenario is that the board maintains its anti-bid stance and demands such huge funding changes to Glazer's proposed £800m buy-out (which is heavily reliant on borrowing) that he either pulls out or risks rejection by shareholders. In either case, it is far from certain that United's major shareholders, John Magnier and J P McManus, will sell their 29 per cent stake. If they do not, Glazer's ambitions are futile anyway.

Glazer's son Joel, a figurehead in the bid, has been ill following a ruptured appendix, which has delayed the family's timetable. There is also a growing feeling that United's recent disappointing interim financial figures have damaged Glazer's ambitions.

The United board has been at pains to stress there is no huge untapped source of income available to the club, which is a main claim underpinning Glazer's business plan. United will also announce ticket price rises this weekend, which will also give them leverage to argue that Glazer has nothing new to offer to the business.

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