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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 May, 2005, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
Man Utd protesters fail to show
Man United fans
Some supporters have vowed to boycott matches
Expected protests at the takeover of Manchester United by US tycoon Malcolm Glazer failed to materialise at the last Premiership game of the season.

Despite three arrests and the unfurling of a black banner saying 'RIP Man United', most fans at the away tie with Southampton were good humoured.

The clash came a day before Mr Glazer is set to gain the extra United shares he needs for a full takeover.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner has 74.81% of United shares but needs 75%.

Mr Glazer is expected to buy the final shares to complete his takeover of the British club on Monday.

Three US hedge funds supported Mr Glazer's bid by buying shares on his behalf, the Sunday Times reported.

Boycott planned

We want to split the club from the brand
Sean Bones, vice-chairman Shareholders United

Manchester United fans are threatening to boycott the football club's sponsors, which include Vodafone, if their club changes hands on Monday.

Campaign group Shareholders United has urged supporters to stop buying club merchandise and the products of sponsors, such as Vodafone, Nike, Anheuser-Busch and Audi.

"We want to split the club from the brand," Sean Bones, a vice-chairman of Shareholders United said. "We feel Malcolm Glazer has bought the brand, but not the club."

Shareholders United, which says its membership has increased to 30,000 from 20,000 in the last few days, is planning demonstrations at the FA Cup Final.

Debt fears

Supporters say the club will be saddled with huge debts as Mr Glazer plans to borrow 265m, set against the club's assets, to help fund the takeover.

He will raise another 275m by issuing securities, but this debt will not be held against the club's assets, and 272m of his own cash, in the form of United equity already owned by him.

What we have to do is affect revenue streams
Sean Bones, Shareholders United

Mr Bones, of Shareholders United, said the planned boycott of merchandise was an attempt to devalue the brand and hit future profits.

Supporters already own an estimated 18% of the club and have tried to secure financial backing from Japanese bank Nomura to buy more shares to block his attempt to delist the club.

Mr Bones said: "What we have to do is affect revenue streams. We need to stop people buying merchandise or anything related to the sponsorship of the club."

'Thick-skinned'

He said the American was "a thick-skinned guy to try and take over a club where 93% of the customers, the supporters of the club, are against him".

Mr Glazer's son Joel is expected to take an active role in running the club and claims his family are "avid" Manchester United fans.

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 - He 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%

He said: "Our intention is to work with the current management, players and fans. We are long-term sports investors and avid Manchester United fans."

Former Tottenham owner Sir Alan Sugar said he felt Mr Glazer had paid a "very, very full price" for United.

"I can't see from my point of view why it is such a good business deal," he said.

The entrepreneur told BBC Radio Four's Today programme: " I am enthralled, I'm intrigued. I want to see where I am missing the point, because at the moment I am missing the point."

Mr Glazer has already bought the 28.7% stake of Irish racing tycoons JP McManus and John Magnier.

Once he has raised 75% or more, he can rewrite the company's articles - effectively giving him carte blanche to run the company as he wants.

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




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Angry supporters speak out against the US tycoon



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