Glazer plans £100m war chest

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The Independent Online

The Glazer family is this week expected to kick-start a public relations initiative aimed at Manchester United fans opposed to their takeover with an open letter from Joel Glazer pledging a four-year, £100m transfer budget.

Joel Glazer, a self-proclaimed "avid" fan, will take on an increasingly prominent role at United, which will become part of the business empire headed by his father, Malcolm, when their £790m takeover is complete.

The family owns just over 76 per cent of the club already and will send out a formal 300p-per-share offer document to the holders of the remaining shares within the next few days. Joel Glazer's open letter is likely to accompany the offer document but, significantly, be separate from it.

The family and its advisors have been at pains during the drafting of the offer document not to make any formal promises. Pledging a £25m-a-year transfer kitty would be too binding in a formal offer document, hence the informal letter.

The offer document is expected to be short on detail about how the family intends to make the necessary huge extra profits from United to repay the £540m they have borrowed to fund the purchase.

There is also likely to be an attempt to argue that the interest repayments will not be as high as the £46m-per-year estimated, with the rationale that one portion of their borrowing - £275m in high-interest "preference shares" - need not be repaid for several years. However, one estimate has suggested that deferring payments could see the Glazer family indebted to the tune of £894m within five years.

The United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, who is expected to remain at the club, said over the weekend that he has not yet been informed about his transfer budget.

Ferguson is due to hold face-to-face talks with the Glazers soon but negotiations are unlikely until next month at the earliest. "I've not met them yet," he said. "I've only spoken to them on the phone, so it's early days... When we need a player we think can improve us, we try and get him.

"Obviously I'll sit down with the owners and we'll ascertain what the situation regarding that is."

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