United fans plan Old Trafford safeguard
The Manchester United Supporters' Trust are trying to get Old Trafford listed as a "community asset" – reducing the chance it could not be sold or that Manchester United will move to a new ground.
The fans' pressure group, who have consistently opposed the Glazers' ownership of the new Premier League champions, believe it would give supporters a chance to bid for Old Trafford and to play a greater part in determining its future if the club were to dispose of it.
They hope that fans could own a stake in the stadium and argue that the Trafford area of Manchester benefits financially and should continue to gain from the presence of the club in the area.
MUST chief executive Duncan Drasdo said: "It is important to understand that a successful listing gives us the 'right to bid' rather than the 'right to buy'. However a listing reduces the chances that Old Trafford could be secretly sold off and worse still Manchester United FC move to a new location, as we've seen with such disastrous effects at several other English clubs – perhaps the worst example being Wimbledon/MK Dons."
MUST have formally submitted a notice to Trafford Council for the stadium to be registered as an 'Asset of Community Value' under the "Assets of Community Value Regulations of the Localism Act (2011)".
Trafford Council have up to eight weeks to decide if Old Trafford qualifies as a community asset. If it is registered as one, the Glazers could appeal against the verdict.
If MUST are successful and the Glazers were to then decide to sell the ground, it would give the local council and the supporters' group a six-month window of opportunity to delay the sale and allow community groups the opportunity to bid for the stadium.
Drasdo added: "We don't have any reason to assume the Glazers currently have any plans to sell Old Trafford and we'd anticipate denials to that effect should they respond to such questions at this time. However if that truly is the case they should have no reason to oppose this application. On the contrary they should welcome the emergence of any potential bidder as it simply provides an option but no obligation to accept any bid.
"We invite Manchester United fans in the community to contact their local councillor to express support for this nomination and we will also be encouraging supporters to join the trust through our website so that they can be part of the preparations we are putting in place to create a future ownership vehicle for Old Trafford should an intention to sell be notified to us."