United have not seen last of Glazer

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The Independent Online

Manchester United's chief executive, David Gill, may have scuppered Malcolm Glazer's takeover plans, but supporters and analysts agree Old Trafford has not seen the last of the American tycoon.

Manchester United's chief executive, David Gill, may have scuppered Malcolm Glazer's takeover plans, but supporters and analysts agree Old Trafford has not seen the last of the American tycoon.

Glazer's £800m buy-out plan took a small step forward when he was granted access to the United accounts. However, the statement released by the United board and the shorter one which followed from Cubic Expression appeared to blow a large hole in his hopes of seizing control.

A combination of boardroom opposition to any bid, plus an indication that Cubic, the investment vehicle of Irish racehorse owners John Magnier and J P McManus, are not intending to sell their 28.9 per cent stake, leaves Glazer floundering. But fans' groups remain wary. "Glazer may not have played his final card yet," said Joe McLean, a football specialist at accountancy firm Grant Thornton. "On past experience, we have to assume he will come back with another offer, even though the United board clearly still believe there is too much debt.

"The key issue is what Cubic do. They have played a cautious game, and know Gla-zer cannot get his hands on the club without their agreement." There was another city-centre demonstration in Manchester yesterday, following the noisy 1,000-strong gathering at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

The Shareholders United spokesman, Oliver Houston, has vowed the fight will go on until Glazer is beaten. "If this really is his last throw of the dice, I have no doubt Glazer will press ahead with the bid," he said. "In a way, he has to, because of the borrowings he has taken on to get his stake to where it is now. But if the bid does come in, then we can all see just how ridiculous it is and how wildly optimistic his profit forecasts are."

Houston's main concern is if Glazer does make a bid, likely to be a couple of weeks off, the United board may adopt a neutral stance rather than voicing direct opposition.

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