United fans shun Glazer's 'token' offer of shares

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Manchester United fans have told Malcolm Glazer to forget trying to win their support for his intended Old Trafford takeover by giving them their own stake in the club.

Manchester United fans have told Malcolm Glazer to forget trying to win their support for his intended Old Trafford takeover by giving them their own stake in the club.

Glazer is working through his options after completing due diligence a fortnight ago. It had been anticipated the American would launch an £800m bid for United last week, although he has still not made a move.

Sources close to the Glazer camp insist there are no problems, although it has been suggested that the Irish duo, John Magnier and JP McManus, will refuse to sell. With a 28.9 per cent stake in the Old Trafford outfit through their Cubic Expression investment vehicle, Magnier and McManus know Glazer's plans have no chance of succeeding without their agreement. And while there has been no public statement from the Irish camp since February's confirmation that they remain "long-term investors in the club", the duo are acutely aware of the strength of their position.

If Glazer cannot win their backing, he knows the bankers JP Morgan will refuse to release funds to try and complete the deal but the indications are he remains optimistic.

Although the details of Glazer's offer remain under wraps, it has been suggested he would leave 25 per cent of shares available to supporters' groups in an effort to placate fears over the future of their club.

But such talk has been scoffed at. "We dismiss any notion that this offer would be in any way acceptable," said Sean Bones, chairman of the influential fans group Shareholders United. "This is an obviously token attempt to placate the fans and supporter-shareholders into thinking they will have some sort of stake in the club after Glazer takes over. Glazer would not offer shares in Manchester United, he would only offer them in his bidding company Red Football Corporation. They would almost certainly be Class B shares with no voting rights and would be far less than 25 per cent.

"The staggering thing is he thinks all we care about is money. Does this man not realise the emotional stake supporters have in the club."

In granting Glazer limited access to club accounts, the United chief executive, David Gill, previously indicated he would not be able to recommend a bid from the American because the proposals put forward were "aggressive" and "potentially damaging" to the club.

Yet Gill may come under pressure himself next week, with United's half-year results due to be released on 22 March, a fortnight after the club's costly exit from the Champions' League.

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