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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
The men behind the saga
Manchester United are at the centre of takeover speculation

Malcolm Glazer's renewed interest in Manchester United marks the latest chapter in the long-running controversy over who controls Old Trafford.

The club's two largest shareholders, horse racing tycoons John Magnier and JP McManus, were at one stage rumoured to be planning a takeover bid.

Magnier, once a friend of Ferguson, fell out with the United manager over stud rights to the hugely successful racehorse Rock of Gibraltar.

United supporters protested against the pair's involvement by staging racecourse demonstrations, and the fans are equally determined to stop Glazer mounting a successful takeover.

Here, BBC Sport looks at the main players in the saga.


JP McManus

Status: Legendary gambler and major racehorse owner.

Nickname: The 'Sundance Kid.'

Famous for: Mighty punts in the betting ring and being universally known by his initials of JP.

JP McManus is a major racehorse owner

Horses: Owns a string of top-quality National Hunt horses, notably the retired triple champion hurdler Istabraq. His current crop includes Baracouda and Flagship Uberalles. Ran a horse called Youlneverwalkalone in the 2003 Grand National.

Where he fits in: Fan of Arsenal, although his horses run in similar hoops to those of Glasgow Celtic, whose majority shareholder Dermot Desmond caddied for him when he played golf against none other than Tiger Woods.

Other connections: JP is friendly with Bahamas-based Joe Lewis, the former owner of Enic, which acquired big stakes in Glasgow Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur, along with Greek side AEK Athens.

Money: Said to be ranked 14th in Ireland's rich list. Bets in six-figure sums.


John Magnier

Status: Smartly-dressed horse breeding guru.

Nickname: Part of the so-called 'Coolmore Mafia.'

Famous for: Shrewd investments in the thoroughbred market.

John Magnier owns Coolmore stud
Horses: Owns Coolmore, the leading stud in Europe, based in County Tipperary. Along with his wife Sue, has been a major shareholder in numerous Flat racing champions in recent years.

Where he fits in: John's wife Sue, the daughter of great trainer Vincent O'Brien, part-owned the 2001 Epsom and Irish Derby winner Galileo, and other leading horses. She shared ownership with former bookie and West Ham fan Michael Tabor, once linked with a Hammers buy-out.

Other connections: Magnier, along with McManus, were once reported to be interested in helping Dermot Desmond with his stake in Celtic. The current Celtic boss Martin O'Neill has been tipped as a future successor at Old Trafford when Ferguson eventually leaves.

Money: With JP, initially held a 2.9% stake in United. Then acquired 8m shares on 12 July, 2001, the day Ferguson unveiled Juan Sebastian Veron as the country's most expensive footballer at 28.1m. A further 1.8m shares were bought 24 hours later.

The pair paid 62m for BSkyB's 9.9% stake in United, and built up their stake to 28.9% of the club through their Cubic Expression Company.


Sir Alex Ferguson

Status: Legendary football manager.

Nickname: Fergie. Known for handing out the 'hairdryer treatment' - a tough dressing down of under-performing players.

Famous for: Bringing European glory to Aberdeen and leading Manchester United to new heights, including an historic treble.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Horses: Owns several racehorses. Magnier said to have gifted him a half-share in the record-breaking Rock of Gibraltar, trained at the Ballydoyle stables owned by Magnier.

Their relationship flourished until 'The Rock' was retired and breeding rights were disputed.

Where he fits in: Has been racing with the men behind the Cubic Expression Company. Co-owned a horse called Juniper with Magnier's associate Michael Tabor, himself once linked with a takeover at West Ham.

Other connections: Friends with Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp, the former West Ham boss and a fellow punter. Ferguson has taken his United players to the races at Chester.

Money: Ferguson is on a lucrative one-year rolling extension to his contract after a U-turn over his decision to stand down as manager.


Malcolm Glazer

Status: American football tycoon and wealthy businessman.

Famous for: Owning 2003 Super Bowl winners Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Caused a stir when raising ticket prices shortly after taking over.

Malcolm Glazer

Nickname: The Leprachaun. On account of his unruly ginger beard.

Where he fits in: Turned attentions to Old Trafford after failing to buy the LA Dodgers baseball side.

Other connections: Glazer, the son of a Lithuanian immigrant, clocked up a fortune after inheriting his father's watch-making business. He and his children now run a wide-ranging business empire which includes shopping centres and nursing homes.

Money: Reputedly worth $1bn (560m.) Ranked 27th on Forbes magazine's US Rich List.





SEE ALSO
Kingmaker: JP McManus
15 Nov 02 |  Horse Racing
Cheltenham's big owners
06 Mar 03 |  Horse Racing
Jump racing: The owners
03 Mar 03 |  Horse Racing


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