Old Trafford supporters protests could have sparked interest in potential new owners.
A group of financiers – dubbed the “Red Knights” – has met to discuss a billion-pound takeover of Manchester United, BBC Sport understands.
United are owned by the Glazer family, but the club’s high level of debt – now at £716.5m – has prompted much unease.
Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill, who was acting in a personal capacity, lawyer Mark Rawlinson and financier Keith Harris were at the meeting.
A spokesman for the Glazers told BBC Sport: “United is not for sale.”
However, United’s owners are now facing a two-pronged attack over their control of the club with the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (Must) running a vocal campaign to bring about a change of ownership.
Must has recruited 53,520 members and recently started working with Blue State Digital, a communications agency that worked on Barack Obama’s successful US Presidential election campaign.
Their “Green and Gold” campaign has seen supporters don the colours of Newton Heath – the club was renamed Manchester United in 1902 – with plenty of green and gold scarves in evidence at Sunday’s Carling Cup final.
BBC sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar says the idea of an attempt to oust the Glazers has been a long time in coming.
“The takeover of Manchester United by the Glazers was controversial, and many fans were opposed to the way the deal was put together, involving high levels of borrowing,” he said.
“The latest accounts show debts at United’s parent company increased to more than £700m, and a recent bond issue, while successful, raised concerns further
“The vocal campaign has been stiffened by the emergence of the Red Knights a group which includes bankers and business experts.
“Keith Harris has advocated fans starving the club of cash by not renewing season ticket or buying merchandise to force the club to consider a sale
“Should that happen this consortium wants to be ready to make an offer but for now, according to the Glazers’ spokesman, the door is firmly closed.” (BBC Sport)
There does appear to be some impetus growing behind those looking to remove the Glazers from the Old Trafford helm and I am sure that any right minded football fan would wish them well. Since day one the American owners of Manchester United have faced strong opposition and recent reports suggesting that the club is in a mountain of debt seem to prove that any protest against them was indeed warranted.
The recent “Green and Gold” campaign has been a big success and has brought a lot of support to the supporters cause and if the “Red Knights” or indeed any other interested party could oust the current owners then that can only be a good thing. In this instance it is definitely a case of anyone but the Glazers.
Fan power can indeed be a strong influence that can make changes at the very top and if the supporters can indeed follow on their threats of not renewing season tickets or buying merchandising then that too will make significant in roads to removing the Glazers.