The Red Knights group of investors today said they will not overpay for Manchester United.
Huge demonstrations took place at Old Trafford yesterday as opposition to the Glazer ownership was ratcheted up another notch.
With smoke bombs being released outside the Megastore and a 10-minute protest outside the directors’ entrance, fans opposed to United’s controversial American owners appeared to be signalling an escalation in their battle to seize control.
The move appeared to be directly linked to the knowledge that the Red Knights group will be lodging a bid for the club, which is expected to be put before the Glazer family prior to the World Cup.
However, the constant stance from the Glazer camp has been that they are not interested in doing a deal.
It was reported last week the family have already turned down a £1.5bn offer from a Far East consortium, which in itself was interpreted as an attempt to drive up the price.
But the Red Knights group, led by wealthy investment banker Jim O’Neill have now signalled they will not overpay in order to ensure United do not find themselves in an even more difficult financial position that they are at present.
“The Red Knights are continuing to seek to assemble a consortium to acquire Manchester United,” said a statement released on behalf of the group this morning.
“Our primary goals remain to facilitate a return of ownership of the club to its supporters and the community; and to restore the financial health of the club.
“The response continues to be encouraging but the process to achieve it is understandably complex and is taking time.
“We have had productive conversations with potential investors in recent weeks which have reinforced our belief that it is wrong to offer above fair value, particularly given the urgent need for the club to reduce debt; and that fair value is likely to be reducing over time given the headwinds facing the game of football.
“Accordingly we will continue to build support in a measured way and will give a further update in due course.”
It has been suggested the Red Knights do not want to offer more than £1bn, although it is hard to see how such a bid would prove attractive.
Sources close to the Glazer camp continue to claim the vast debts incurred by the club are not impacting on Alex Ferguson’s ability to do business in the transfer market.
They also insist that a number of recent sponsorship deals indicate the business community have no problem dealing with the Glazer family.
However, the Manchester United Supporters Trust has warned that if the Glazers turn the Red Knights offer down, they will immediately call for a boycott of season tickets and club merchandise in order to wreck the family’s financial blueprint.