Man Utd fans would be the ‘backbone’ of the proposed Zilliacus takeover

Thomas Zilliacus said in an interview published on Thursday that Manchester United fans would be at the heart of his proposed takeover of the Premier League club, with a say on key issues such as ground remediation and squad building.

The Finnish businessman recently joined the race to buy United from the Glazer family, who announced in November they were considering selling the 20-time English champions.

Zilliacus, 69, founder of private equity firm Mobile FutureWorks, is the third potential buyer to go public with his stake in the stock.

Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al Thani and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe have also thrown their hats in the ring.

Both parties submitted second bids last week.

US hedge fund Elliott Investment Management, which sold AC Milan for $1.3 billion last year, has reportedly made an offer for a minority stake in the club.

No figures have been released by Raine Group, which is handling the bids on behalf of the Glazers, but one or more of the original bids are in the £4.5bn ($5.5bn) range.

The Glazers have reportedly put a £6billion price tag on the three-time Champions League winners.

Zilliacus, a rumored United supporter, favors a model where his consortium buys the club and then sells stakes to fans worldwide.

“It (United) was there long before all these people bidding for it were born, and it will be here long after all these people bidding for it died,” he told the I newspaper.

“The backbone of this institution is the fans and in that regard it’s hugely important that the fans are at the heart of the decisions.”

United fans have complained about the Glazers for years, even breaking into Old Trafford to force a game against Liverpool to be postponed in 2021 in protest at Americans’ unpopular rule.

Zilliacus said if his offer is selected, fans would have a say on important issues such as the potential Old Trafford redevelopment and squad building, but not team selection.

Despite being a latecomer in the takeover battle, Zilliacus insists his investment group should be viewed as a serious contender.

“I’ve been in business my whole life. I’ve started companies, bought companies, sold companies, so I have a global network and I’ve done this on a global scale – first with the world’s largest phone company, Nokia, then with my own group,” he said.

“I have a global network of people wanting to take part in interesting ventures and this is certainly one.

“Funding something like that – and it’s a big sum – is something I’m used to.”


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