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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Anti-Glazer fans vow 'last stand'
Fan burns Man Utd season ticket application outside Old Trafford
Fans hope their protests will hit United's finances
Manchester United fans who hold shares in the club say they will fight to the very end to keep their shares out of the clutches of Malcolm Glazer.

Shareholders United (SU), which has 30,000 members, says it has been flooded with requests for new membership since the bid news broke.

Money and donations have come in at such a rate the shareholders' group says it has not had time to count them.

Malcolm Glazer now owns 76.16% of the club and aims to scoop up the rest.

In total, fans own 15% of the club, according to Oliver Houston, spokesman for SU.

If Mr Glazer can secure 90% of the shares he does not yet own, holders of the remainder can be legally forced to sell.

Getting together

SU has a share scheme whereby if a member joins for 10, he or she is automatically given a free share in a nominee account in which all the voting rights are pooled.

You don't have to rush to sell your shares to Mr Glazer is the main message
Oliver Houston, SU

Every member has their own individual account within the share scheme. From then on members can increase their shareholding as they please.

Members can also buy shares in the name of the organisation, if they don't want their own individual accounts.

Additionally, lots of members are also private shareholders outside of the SU share scheme.

'Offer remains open'

"There has been a lot of trepidation and concern amongst our members and private shareholders generally throughout the past week," said Mr Houston.

"'You don't have to rush to sell your shares to Mr Glazer', is the main message," he added. "Because the offer remains open."

Shareholders United said it expects some shareholders to dig their heels in and never sell their shares no matter what, particularly people with very small shareholdings.

"There will be some people making a defiant last stand," Mr Houston predicted.

'Long, hot summer'

But people with larger shareholdings - some SU members hold up to 100,000 shares - stand to lose a lot of money if they refuse to sell.

Malcolm Glazer
Mr Glazer has been buying up shares over the past few days

SU said it is in talks with lawyers about a "possible strategic sale" of a number of shares to Mr Glazer for the 300p offer price.

It would then put that money in a high interest account - the Phoenix fund.

If the campaign to put a stranglehold on Manchester United's income is successful and Mr Glazer is forced out of the club, SU said it hopes to be in a position to buy back a sizeable share of the club.

Glazer setback

Meanwhile, lawyers are also being consulted on the legality of Mr Glazer transferring his debt onto the club's books, SU said.

The group said it would make further announcements on its strategy next week.

One setback for Malcolm Glazer has been an announcement by the European Commission that they would not support a legal challenge by the US tycoon over TV rights for Man United games.

United and other premiership clubs currently have a "joint selling" agreement over negotiating TV screening rights to matches.

But Mr Glazer is thought to have ambitions to break away from the agreement under free market legislation rules.

"It will be a long, hot summer," said Oliver Houston. "There's still a lot of fight to go."

Borrowed funds

Meanwhile, former Manchester United director and ex-BBC director general, Greg Dyke, expects the Glazer family to have given up control at Old Trafford by 2010.

More than a third of Mr Glazer's 790m offer for the club, is debt secured against United's assets, such as its Old Trafford stadium, while a further 275m comes from loans from three US hedge funds.

"I think most of us who have looked at it think he can't conceivably fund that bid," Mr Dyke told BBC Radio Five Live.

"He's clearly bought this on borrowed money and I don't think a club like Manchester United could sustain that."




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