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Mar 2, 2010

Red Knights hoping for season ticket boycott

The group behind the proposed takeover of Manchester United is hoping 10,000-plus season ticket holders refuse to renew this summer to force the Glazers to sell up.

Red Knights confirm United ambitions

The Keith Harris-led Red Knights are pinning their hopes on fan power forcing the Glazers' hand, but Soccernet was told on Tuesday morning that the club is not for sale, they have not been seeking to sell and have no intention of selling.

The Harris camp have been saying for weeks that they are confident of raising £1 billion from a group of mega wealthy United fans to facilitate the offer, and that has not changed since the overnight hysteria about meetings in City advisors' offices on Fleet Street which sparked the takeover fever.

Soccernet has learned that nothing much has changed and that the Red Knights are still hoping for pressure from fans to improve their chances of forcing a takeover.

A Red Knights insider told Soccernet: "When the Glazers first arrived in 2005, the club admitted that there were 100 non-renewals of season tickets. We suspect that there were 10,000 fans who refused renewal but there was a huge waiting list, so it came down to 100 net non-renewals.

"The fans are even more agitated now about the Bond [to raise funds to restructure the debt], and if there was a similar number perhaps even more, then there is no longer a waiting list.

"That would be a serious problem as it would hit part of the club's core income and would unnerve the Bond holders."

Such tactics will not impress the Glazers, and if indeed their hand was forced then they might choose to do business with a group other than Red Knights.

In addition, there is no doubt that the Red Knights' bid will be partly based on loans. But the Soccernet insider added: "If there was £300 million of loans, for example, than the interest would be a more workable £30 million a year. At the moment the debt is closer to £800 million, with £90 million of interest repayments.

"It might not be evident now, but in the future this is clearly going to impact on the manager's ability to buy players, and this is why the Red Knights arrived, they fear for the club in the future."

However, the Americans' London-based advisor and spokesperson made it clear that there isn't a price the Glazers are seeking despite the fact it has been suggested they would listen to an offer in the region of £1.2 billion.

For the takeover bid to succeed the Red Knights are effectively looking for fans to hit the Glazers in the pocket by, in the short term, turning their backs on the club.

Harris recently told me that he was aware of a £1.5 billion offer from a Chinese group that the Glazers turned down two years ago. But Harris feels that the price is now right at £1.2 billion as it would give the Glazers a huge profit and end their debt problems.

Although Harris is convinced that the Glazers would take £1.2 billion, his Red Knights takeover attempt is at a very early stage.

The insider added: "Nothing much has changed. The wealthy fans want to take over the club, at the moment the Glazers won't sell, but much depends on galvanising the fans, they have an important role in all of this."

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