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MALCOLM GLAZER, the American tycoon who owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has renewed his attempt to buy Manchester United, although he has not yet made a formal offer.

For the second time in three months, Glazer, who already owns just over 28 per cent of United, has written to the board with proposals suggesting how he could finance the deal. His first, last October, were rejected by the board as loading too much debt on to the club and never made public.

Yesterday, in a statement, the club said: “The board can confirm it has now received a detailed proposal, subject to various preconditions, which may form the basis of an offer for Manchester United from Glazer.”

No details of the new Glazer proposals or the preconditions were given, but it is understood that Glazer – who has new merchant bankers in N M Rothschild and backing from US investment bank J P Morgan – now values the club at £800 million – 300p for each share. This is nearly £200 million more than United were valued at on Friday evening, after close of business on the London Stock Exchange. It is also £170 million more than Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB offered in 1998.

That offer received the unanimous backing of the then-United board, for whichDavid Gill, the present managing director, was finance director. However, it was vetoed by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission following a vigorous supporters’ campaign.

The present offer is believed to envisage £300 million of debt, but Glazer is said to be offering sweeteners in the form of increasing Old Trafford’s capacity to nearly 76,000 seats, providing funds for Sir Alex Ferguson to buy players, and even retaining Gill and his executive directors.

Glazer would clearly like the United board to accept his proposals so he can make an agreed bid. He needs to win over the Irish duo of J P McManus and John Magnier, whose Cubic Expression are the largest shareholders with 28.9 per cent. Without their support Glazer will not win.

Although they have not reacted to anything Glazer has done in the last year, they see United as an investment and a definite offer of 300p a share, without conditions, would represent a handsome profit and might prove tempting.

Glazer will be fiercely opposed by the fans. Yesterday Oliver Houston, of Shareholders United, the group formed to oppose Murdoch, told me: “We opposed Rupert Murdoch, but at least he was putting cash on the table. Glazer is putting nothing on the table. He is not an Abramovich. During the Murdoch bid, opinion was divided and some fans favoured it. Nobody favours the Glazer bid.

“Alex Ferguson has said he doesn’t want the club in anyone else’s hands and Eric Cantona has opposed it. These are the two iconic figures of Manchester United.

“Glazer sees Manchester United as a money-making machine, but it is the fans who put the money in and we are not letting him have our money.”

© Mihir Bose

      

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