Manchester United were target for Burmese junta

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Manchester United were briefly a target for a takeover by the leader of Burma's military junta, according to a secret document leaked by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

A cable sent from the US embassy in Rangoon to Washington, details of which have been revealed on the Guardian newspaper website, revealed that military commander-in-chief Than Shwe was advised by his grandson before January 2009 to look into the possibility of buying the Barclays Premier League giants.

The cable is said to explain that making an offer of one billion US dollars (£634million) was under consideration before being ditched in favour of creating a new Burmese football league.

The bid proposal, which did not reach the stage of an approach to United's owners, the Glazer family, is reported to have been motivated by an intention to divert attention away from Burma's domestic problems.

According to the leak, the Burmese would have been able to find the funds suggested for the bid, had it gone ahead. At the time, Burma was still reeling from the impact of Cyclone Nargis, which led to around 140,000 deaths in 2008.

The Guardian quotes the cable as saying: "One well-connected source reports that the grandson wanted Than Shwe to offer 1bn for Manchester United. The senior general thought that sort of expenditure could look bad, so he opted to create for Burma a league of its own."