United fans step up anti-Glazer protest

The Glazers bought United for about £790m in 2005. (AFP)

More than 20,000 Manchester United fans have joined the campaign to force out the club's US owners in the past 24 hours, said the leader of the protest group.

Manchester United Supporters Trust (Must) are campaigning to force the Glazer family to sell the club, which now carries debts of about £716.5 million (Dh3.67 billion).

Must are backing a move by a group of wealthy supporters, known as the 'Red Knights' who are planning to raise more than £1bn to buy the club from the United States family, who have owned it since 2005.

Red Knights, a group of "high net-worth individuals" who work in the City, have confirmed their intention to try to oust the owners, the Glazer family.

The Glazers launched a bond issue last month to raise £500m in a bid to re-align their debts.

Duncan Drasdo, Chief ExEcutive of Must, said yesterday that after the Red Knights plans were made public a day earlier, there had been an "incredible uptake" in support of the campaign.

"A month ago, prior to the publication of the bond prospectus, Must membership stood at 36,000 members. Last night, that figure had doubled to an amazing 78,000 members... now bigger than Old Trafford itself," Drasdo said.

"The majority of that growth has come in the last 24 hours and with a membership counter ticking over on the website it has generated huge interest.

"Must has set an initial, highly ambitious goal of growing to 100,000 members. An incredible first 24 hours means we are well on our way and we are now appealing to the millions of United supporters around the world to come together, and show the Red Knights there is a passionate desire to see a better ownership model for Manchester United," he said.

Meanwhile, club Chief Executive David Gill said on Tuesday that Manchester United continued to be a well-run professional club after it reported an improved financial performance in the first half of its fiscal year to December 31.

Gill said: "We have seen what the proposals are and we would meet the financial break even rules.

"We, as Manchester United, have always been run professionally and will continue to be run professionally," he said.

Revenue increased to £144.7m with media revenue up 33 per cent and matchday revenue rising 10 per cent, benefiting from two extra Premier League games in the period.

The club cut its pre-tax loss to £1.9m during the half year, compared with £23.9m the year before. Gill will address delegates at the Soccerex business convention in Manchester later yesterday and is expected to confirm that the Glazers have no intention of selling United.

The Glazers, who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers American NFL team, bought United in 2005 for about £790m against a wave of opposition from fans who feared they were loading it up with too much debt.

"Manchester United Football Club is not for sale," a spokesman for the Glazer family said on Tuesday.

 

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