United fans' group hits out at Glazer 'spin'

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The Independent Football

The battle between the Glazer family and Manchester United activist supporters determined to oust them from Old Trafford descended to the level of personal insults yesterday, with the most prominent fans' group declaring the Americans' public relations representatives to be "about as effective as a wet paper bag" as it responded to suggestions that the Red Knights' bid to buy out the Glazers is looking increasingly doomed.

The prospect of the Red Knights failing to remove the Glazers, reported in yesterday's Independent, was sourced from well-placed City observers, though the Manchester United Supporters' Trust (Must) blamed the Glazers' PR representatives. "The Glazers' anonymous spin doctor has been putting a bit of work in. About time, too," Must observed in an attack on the report. Must, which has led the inspirational green and gold campaign and is now waiting for a financial bid to accompany it, insisted that that the campaign is not dead, with the prospects of a breakthrough dependent on persuading a sufficient number of fans to delay renewal of season ticket sales, thus de-stabilising the Americans and forcing them into considering a bid for the club from the Red Knights.

Without such a damaging backdrop to a bid, the Red Knights will be dependent on delivering a financial offer the Glazers simply cannot refuse. The Knights are unlikely to go over £1bn; the Glazers are understood to have rejected a £1.5bn offer, the specifics of which have not have been disclosed – to the suspicion of some, who suggest the £1.5bn figure is spin.

United, who have frozen season ticket prices this season, will not discuss how many season tickets they have sold so far this summer. But chief executive David Gill has suggested that the take-up so far mirrors that of previous years. There are 14,000 on the waiting list, though many of that number are only listed because they want seats in specific areas of the stadium and will not take any season ticket that comes. Must yesterday dismissed out of hand Gill's suggestions that renewals are on track because fans never renew promptly.

There are hopes from many activists that the timing of a Red Knights bid will help boost the numbers who decide to delay renewal, with the first bid likely to be tabled on 11 or 12 June – the day before the first "soft" renewal deadline. According to the sportingintelligence. com website, the Glazers' near certain refusal of such a bid would create a timely opportunity for Must to exhort fans not to renew their tickets at a club whose owners have just rejected a generous buy-out offer. The Glazers would certainly prefer a bid sooner rather than later, to end the hiatus.

Meanwhile, United's investigation into the leaking of a list of 400 companies that pay for hospitality facilities at Old Trafford, as part of an escalation of the campaign against the Glazers, is focusing on analysis of the serial numbers on the document, which the club believe will lead them to the culprit. United were concerned that that companies named on the list, which was published last month by the protest group, United Supporters for Change (USC), may feel intimidated and some have come under attack from those who question their outlay on Old Trafford entertainment. The unique serial number which was not obscured on the leaked list before it was published on the internet should tell United whether an employee disaffected by the Glazers might have released the list. It is possible that the list might have been leaked by a third party.

Following the leak, Anglo Irish Banks has come under criticism in Ireland for spending £28,000 on Old Trafford facilities when it has only survived because of a taxpayer-backed guarantee and needs to find some £6.5bn this year. But United claim they have not been inundated by concerned hospitality clients worried about reprisals following the leak. Instead, several clients have contacted United to know why their names were not on the outdated list, evidently feeling that they might have been missing out.