Champions League hero Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has joined the anti-Malcolm Glazer protests by becoming a patron of influential fans’ group Shareholders United.
On the day Glazer finally gained access to the Red Devils accounts and began the process of due diligence that is expected to lead to a formal bid at some stage over the next few weeks, Solskjaer became the first current member of the Manchester United squad to align himself with the supporters so bitterly opposed to the American’s involvement.
“I am honoured,” said Solskjaer.
“I think it is important that the club remains in the right hands. I am absolutely on the supporters’ side and think the club is in very good hands as it is today. I am a United fan myself and only want what is best for the future.”
While Old Trafford legends Paddy Crerand, Harry Gregg and Alex Stepney are already SU patrons, it is a major coup for the organisation to get a figure as popular as Solskjaer on board.
Though the man who famously scored the last-gasp goal that won the European Cup for United against Bayern Munich in 1999 might not turn too many heads in financial circles, he could turn into a major ally in the inevitable public relations battle that would accompany a Glazer bid.
Supporters have maintained their offensive since news of the 76-year-old’s latest £800m (€1.2bn) approach for United surfaced nine days ago and took their battle to the shops of major club sponsors Nike, Vodafone and Ladbrokes in Manchester city centre on Saturday.
They have promised a boycott of all club merchandise should Glazer succeed in his bid, although it is debatable whether that will put off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner, who has already shown admirable persistence in his attempts to wrest control at Old Trafford.
Shares in the club rose just over two per cent today as news of Glazer’s 300p per share approach sank in, although a price of 276p reflected the doubt surrounding its likely success.
United chief executive David Gill indicated on Friday it was unlikely he would be able to recommend a Glazer bid based on the definitive proposals he had received from the American because it could damage the long-term prospects of the club.
Gill could find his position undermined by a legal wrangle should he adopt the same stance to a formal offer, especially as he also stated the offer price did represent a good deal for shareholders.
Glazer is likely to argue the shareholders are the only people Gill has a responsibility to act on behalf of although, in a statement to the House of Commons in January, Sports Minister Richard Caborn said any recommendation on the takeover should take into account both ‘present and future shareholders’.
Remaining totally in the background are John Magnier and JP McManus, whose 28.9% stake could either hand Glazer the prize he cherishes or kill his dream altogether.