Bones, Beckham & Boycott
True to the words of Sean Bones, vice Chair or summat of MUST, speaking on Five-Live last night, Japanese investment bank Nomura are to advise the cringeily-named Red Knights as they bid to seize Manchester United from the Glazers. Quite what that means is beyond your average United fan, but Bones was very excited on the radio last night so I will speculate from a position of zero corporate finance knowledge that Nomura’s addition to the RK/MUST alliance is like Cantona arriving in that nearly-but-not-quite-can-we-win-the-league-with-Dion-Dublin-upfront 1992 team.
This will come as a big relief for Reds everywhere, especially those in fiscally-enforced exile, as all they have to do is sit and wait for the ‘welcome back to United, your £50 season ticket is ready for collection, we’ve put the words ‘football club’ back on the badge, this is your football club’ letter, which will surely be the first thing sent out by the new fan-centric, not for profit people that take over the club.
The story is all over today’s papers. This one is taken from the BBC:
The Red Knights group eyeing a possible bid for Manchester United is to be advised by investment bank Nomura, the Japanese firm has said.
The group of financiers has met the football club’s supporters, who have been running a vocal campaign to bring about a change of ownership.
Manchester United was bought by the Glazer family for £800m in 2005.
The Nomura team will be led by two bankers who advised the Glazer family on its takeover five years ago.
“Nomura will work closely with the Red Knights, the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust and other potential investors to co-ordinate and formulate the proposal to be put to the Glazer family,” the financiers said in a statement.
“Nomura is beginning its role by contacting the many expressions of financial support the Red Knights have received to date.”
The Red Knights group includes Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill, lawyer Mark Rawlinson and financier Keith Harris.
“Ultimately they would like to get hundreds of thousands of potential members around the world and for each of them to have a stake in the club,” said BBC Sport’s Dan Roan.
“It’s unprecedented – we’ve seen it happen in Spain with Madrid and Barcelona, but to actually buy the club off a tycoon is a new one.
“They quite like the idea of this club being democratic – they think it’s part of a campaign that may sweep through football.”
The Glazers’ reign has been controversial, with many fans opposed to the huge levels of debt that Red Football, the club’s holding firm, took on to finance the takeover. Red Football now has more than £700m of debts.
Fans protesting against the Glazers have been wearing green and gold scarves – the colours of Newton Heath before it was renamed Manchester United in 1902 – at games this season.
David Beckham made a very public anti-Glazer statement last night by picking up and wrapping himself in a green and gold scarf that was hurled onto the pitch by someone in the Stretford End as he left the field at Old Trafford. The media has gone bananas, claiming that the campaign now has a legitimacy it previously lacked because of the “faceless” Red Knights’ refusal to come out into the open. I didn’t see the post- match interview but seeing them in print, it is hard to judge Beckham’s comments and know whether or not he just picked the scarf up or donned it in solidarity. Make your own mind up – this is taken from Ian Herbert’s piece in today’s Independent:
Rooney rules but Beckham steals the show
David Beckham delivered the perfect publicity coup for the Manchester United green-and-gold campaign last night, leaving the Old Trafford pitch with one of the campaign’s scarves draped around his neck after United had smashed Milan 4-0 to storm into the Champions League quarter-finals.
The scarf, picked up from a fan as Beckham left the pitch, seemed to have made a parting statement in what the 34-year-old acknowledged last night was “possibly” his last competitive match at Old Trafford. If that was the case, Beckham certainly rowed back on the gesture late last night. “I am a Manchester United fan. I saw the scarf there and just put it round my neck,” he said. “It’s the old colours [of Newton Heath, which preceded United] and that’s all I know.” Asked if he appreciated the symbolism he said: “It’s not my business. I am a Manchester United fan and I support the club. I always will. It’s nothing to do with me how it’s run.”
His timing was impeccable, though. United fans, galvanised by the attempts of the so-called “Red Knights” to buy out the club’s owners, the Glazer family, delivered “Glazers Out” chants throughout the match and held up anti-Glazer placards. Avram Glazer, son of Malcolm Glazer, ran the gauntlet to be at the game.
Another full house, another one for the Glazers to look forward to in the next round and another forty odd sheets coming out of Reds’ bank accounts, the vast majority of it going to a family that’s going nowhere whilst they’re making rather than losing money. That’s the reality of last night’s win against Milan, however much you try and kid yourself that all’s well because Beckham supports the campaign.
Aside from a show of colour and noise, Reds should be concerned about what is actually happening in terms of genuine opposition to the Glazers. Nomura might be involved with the wealthy Red Knights and together they might be able to put together a financial package which stacks up, but where’s the real leadership at supporter level and what’s the trigger that will force the Glazers to give up what is a very lucrative hold on United? A full Old Trafford either forces the Glazers to stay or forces the price of the club right up so that the Red Knights’ or anyone else’s business plan is unstable from the start. Something more needs to happen.
MUST seem to be putting themselves forward as the fans’ voice but are their 127,000+ email addresses really going to make a difference to who owns and controls United? Not whilst such riches are on offer for the Glazers courtesy of season ticket monies. 250,000 people could sign up and declare their hatred for the Glazer family but they’re really not going to lose sleep whilst they’re taking tens of millions of pounds each year from the fifty odd thousand people who hand over their season ticket money. It’s that you need to deny them, not your friendship, because balloons and scarves aren’t what makes their worlds go round. It’s money. Your money. Stop giving it to them.
That is the one vital element that is escaping a lot of people, not least of all MUST’s spokespeople – if you keep paying these twats (Joel, Brian etc) they’ll keep taking the money, even if you do have a green and gold scarf and sing nasty songs about them. It is the view of many Reds, a lot of them no longer paying into the Glazer regime, that MUST should be making that call and telling people to have a year off whilst they sort out the clever-bloke money stuff in the background and the Glazers ponder the merits of keeping hold of a club that’s no longer giving them the coin they need. After all, they’re the independent supporters’ group getting all the air time and claiming to represent “127,000 members”. Their refusal to stand behind a boycott is worrying given what they’re trying to achieve. It wouldn’t take much to make it a success. Some strong leadership is all it needs.
United fans just need to be given the belief that they will win if a boycott happens and that they need reassuring that their seat will still be there waiting for them when they get back… because there is no fucking waiting list. It is a big sacrifice for many Reds but it’s a sacrifice you have to make if those fuckers are ever going to relinquish control of our club. So come on MUST, if you are truly representing so many Reds then do what you know is right and make the call for a boycott.