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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 23:07 GMT 00:07 UK
Glazer wins control of Man United
Malcolm Glazer
Mr Glazer had until 17 May to make his intentions known
US sports tycoon Malcolm Glazer has won control of Manchester United in a 790m ($1.47bn) takeover bid.

The American has secured the 28.7% stake owned by Irish racing tycoons JP McManus and John Magnier, and now has more than 70% of the Premiership club.

Red Football Ltd, acting on behalf of Mr Glazer, said the Irishmen had sold their stakes for 300p a share.

Club fans have vehemently opposed Mr Glazer's ambition all along and fear that ticket prices will soar.

The bid comes five days ahead of the 17 May deadline when Mr Glazer had to make known whether he planned to bid.

'Aggressive'

Mr Glazer now wants to buy the rest of the club's shares. If he gets 75% plus one share, United could be delisted from the stock exchange and Mr Glazer could transfer his debt onto the club.

TIMELINE OF A TAKEOVER
March 2003 - Glazer buys 2.9% stake in club
March 2004 - Glazer says he has "no current intention" of making a bid
June 2004 - Glazer's stake in club nears 20%
October 2004 - United confirms bid approach from Glazer, as his stake nears 30%
November 2004 - Glazer ousts three directors from United's board
December 2004 -Glazer makes revised bid
February 2005 - Glazer makes new bid approach, valuing United at 800m, the club later opens its books to the tycoon
14 April 2005 - Glazer moots 800m bid for club
28 April 2005 - Takeover Panel sets 17 May deadline for Glazer to announce whether he intends to buy United
12 May 2005 - Glazer launches formal takeover bid for United after upping his stake in the club to almost 57%

If he can get 90% plus one share, he can make a compulsory purchase and scoop up the other 10% of the club's shares.

With heavy trading in Manchester United shares taking place after the announcement, it is already looking increasingly likely that Mr Glazer will quickly reach the 90.01% stake he needs to force out any remaining shareholders.

United's third-biggest shareholder Scottish mining millionaire Harry Dobson is already reported to have sold his 6.45% stake after the Irishmen sold theirs.

Shares in Manchester United closed up 34.25 pence, or 12.92%, at 299.25p on Thursday.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman said the government had urged Mr Glazer to have talks with fans, the Football Association and the club in order to ensure there was "constructive involvement".

She told BBC One's Question Time: "Manchester United is very important to English football and the government is keeping a very close eye on the situation.

"The fans are very worried and obviously there is concern that ticket prices will go up and that there won't be investment in the players."

'Damaging'

Mr Glazer first showed an interest in buying the club last autumn and tabled a formal proposal in October, which was rejected by the board.

The owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is thought to be keen to exploit the strength of the Manchester United brand in the US.

Two weeks ago, the club board said it could not recommend Mr Glazer's second takeover proposal to shareholders because his business plan appeared to be too "aggressive".

His offers were rejected on the grounds that his plans relied too heavily on borrowed money.

The club's chief executive David Gill said Mr Glazer's business plan was "potentially damaging" to the club amid fears that the American could saddle it with up to 300m worth of debt.

However, members of the board did agree that some shareholders might think the offer was a good one.

Outrage

Man Utd fans

Manchester United fans are angry at the latest news. Last year, they formed a shareholders' association to buy club shares and try to protect it from Mr Glazer's clutches.

A spokesman for Shareholders United, which represents 17% of the club's shareholders, told the BBC that Mr Glazer was "no Roman Abramovich".

"He's not turning up with a suitcase full of his own cash and he is, in effect, asking Manchester United fans to pay for his takeover, to pay for increased ticket prices and increased merchandising," said spokesman Oliver Houston.

"We feel completely betrayed by John Magnier and JP McManus."

The Irishmen are estimated to have made a 70m profit from their stake.

A spokesman for the duo said: "They saw it as an investment. They got a very good deal."

'Game over'

Malcolm Glazer's background couldn't be any further removed from the 'Theatre of Dreams'

"I'm giving up my season ticket," said Shareholders United president Nick Towle.

"I'm not putting a penny of my money into this guy's pocket."

Mr Towle said Shareholders United still hoped to stop the tycoon getting a 75% stake.

"If we can get to that 25% of the remaining shareholders, that would be great," Mr Towle added. "But it's looking like an uphill battle for us."

Analysts are convinced that the 76-year-old is unstoppable.

"I think it's pretty much game over now as the key to all this was always going to surround what the Irish duo would do with their stake," said Richard Hunter of stockbrokers Hargreaves Lansdown.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Fans of Glazer's NFL team speak out



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