As the American sports magnate Malcolm Glazer spent another £2.65m on Manchester United shares to increase his stake in the club to 16.69 per cent yesterday, supporters' groups intensified their efforts to thwart any takeover.
Glazer expanded his holding from 16.3 per cent by buying 1 million extra shares at 265p each. The purchase came a week after the Stock Exchange Takeover Panel deemed United to be in an "offer period", or in other words susceptible to bids. Glazer has yet to clarify his long-term intentions. He recently issued a statement saying he may or may not be interested in a takeover.
"This latest acquisition by Malcolm Glazer may be seen as a small investment by his standards but it is another unwelcome one as far as we're concerned," said Jules Spencer, the chairman of the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association.
"We would continue to urge ordinary supporters to invest in the club and ensure it doesn't end up being swamped by someone who has no motive other than to maximise profits and turn Manchester United into a glorified cash cow. Our message now is the same as it has always been. Manchester United is not for sale."
Fan groups also remain concerned about the motives of United's largest shareholders, John Magnier and J P McManus. The Irish racing tycoons own 28.89 per cent of the club through their Cubic Expression company. It is understood they have never intended to launch a takeover but their role as potential kingmakers to Glazer or any other would-be owner is a concern for fans. Glazer would need to buy Cubic's stake to control the club.
A fans' group calling itself United4Action was told yesterday they will be allowed to make a peaceful protest against the Irishmen within Cheltenham racecourse on 18 March, Gold Cup day. Details have yet to be confirmed.
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