Supporters' dismay at Glazer shares plan

Manchester United supporters on both sides of the Atlantic have reacted with dismay to reports that the family of Malcolm Glazer, a Florida tycoon who has never seen the team play, is trying to become the club's majority shareholder.

Glazer, who owns the American football team, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, needs only 10 per cent more of the shares to overtake the Cubic Expression partners John Magnier and JP McManus, who have 28.9 per cent. They may be prepared to sell to him, but if he went above 30 per cent, he would have to bid for the whole company, which would be difficult to bring off.

United officials, who met Glazer in May, were expecting to see him again at one of the three matches on their tour of the United States which finished this weekend. He failed to turn up, though two of his sons were at the opening game against Bayern Munich in Chicago.

Sir Alex Ferguson's friends-turned-adversaries, Magnier and McManus, could effectively hand power to the Glazer family by selling about one-third of their holding. The Irish pair, who famously demanded answers to 99 questions about the club's finances earlier this year, have always insisted that they regard United purely as an investment. So has Glazer - until now.

J D Deitch, the US Coordinator for the American campaign, said yesterday: "Manchester United is an extremely valuable financial concern and my understanding is that even somebody with the wealth of Mr Glazer wouldn't be able to take it over without some additional financial assistance. He keeps his financial details fairly well concealed. But it doesn't matter whether it's Mr Glazer or anyone else, we are very much against any one person taking over the club."

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