Red Knights investors raise £1.5bn for plan to buy United
SIXTY super-rich investors have pledged up to £1.5bn in their bid to seize control of Manchester United.
Although the Glazer family have insisted that the Premier League champions are not for sale, the leaders of the Red Knights, the group of leading City financiers behind the move, will today sift through a rich list of applicants ready to back a buyout.
"We thought we had 40 investors -- well, it is already 60," one of the Knights said last night.
The strength of the bid will become clear later today when Jim O'Neill, head of global economic research at Goldman Sachs and a lifelong United supporter, and his team analyse the offers on the table.
The Red Knights believe the club is worth about £1bn, while the Glazers' valuation -- which they insist does not equate to an asking price -- is approximately £1.2bn.
David Gill, the United chief executive, dismissed the Red Knights out of hand this week, describing their takeover plan as unworkable. But anger at the massive debts run up by the Glazers that has rippled through the Old Trafford stands is now making waves in boardrooms as it appears that leading investors as well as fans are rallying behind the Knights.
The Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST), which is campaigning to oust the Glazers, said last night that membership was on target for 110,000 -- more than doubling in a day since the Red Knights' plan emerged on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Premier League clubs have rejected a proposal to decide the fourth Champions League place with a play-off. (© The Times, London)