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Sir Alex Ferguson dismisses Red Knights link

Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson has won 26 trophies in 24 years at Old Trafford

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has rejected claims he is supporting a potential takeover of the club by a group of wealthy fans.

It had been suggested Ferguson would invest his own money in the club if the bid by the "Red Knights" succeeded.

But Ferguson insisted the reports are "absolute rubbish - there is not an ounce of truth in it".

On Sunday one of the "Red Knights" told BBC Sport that they had had no contact with Ferguson.

A United spokesman added: "[The owners] the Glazer family and the manager enjoy 100% trust in each other."

The debt level of more than £700m incurred under the Glazers on a once-debt free company has caused unease among some supporters.

Thousands of fans have joined the green and gold protest against the Americans, who bought the club in 2005, by wearing the colours of Newton Heath - the club was renamed Manchester United in 1902.

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And the Manchester United Supporters Trust, which is running a vocal campaign to bring about a change of ownership, says membership has doubled to about 100,000 in the past month, with much of that growth coming following the "Red Knights revelation".

Ferguson has some friends among the Red Knights and has said he has "no problem" with the protestors.

"There were plenty of green and gold scarves on Sunday [in the Carling Cup final win over Aston Villa] and I was delighted to see them supporting the club," he said.

"We are quite happy. As long as they are supporting Manchester United they can wear whatever they like.

"I have no issue with the Red Knights. I know some of them. I don't deny them the right to protest.

"If they want to try and buy the club that is entirely up to them."

According to The Observer, senior City financers allied to the consortium had claimed Ferguson was supporting the controversial bid.

The so-called Red Knights include Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill, acting in a personal capacity, lawyer Mark Rawlinson and financier Keith Harris.

Man Utd fans display an anti-Glazers banner during the Carling Cup final
Man Utd fans have staged 'green and gold' protests against the Glazers

It has been reported that 60 investors have pledged up to £1.5bn ($2.26bn) to buy the club, but a statement from the Red Knights last week said the figure was purely speculative.

US sports tycoon Malcolm Glazer, who bought United for £800m, has said the club is not for sale, while the club's chief executive David Gill said the owners were "running the club the right way".

According to the latest accounts that were released in January, debts at United's parent company Red Football Joint Venture have increased to £716.5m.

Red Football Joint Venture is owned by the Glazer family and secures its debts against the football club, but the accounts also confirmed that six of Malcolm Glazer's children were each given loans worth £1.67m from the parent company.

All are directors of Red Football, and such a practice is legal, but Harris, who is the head of merchant bank Seymour Pierce, has said it did "not create a good impression of the directors' governance of the company".



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see also
Man Utd suitors 'won't overpay'
05 Mar 10 |  Business
Glazers receive backing from Gill
03 Mar 10 |  Business
Financiers 'discuss Man Utd bid'
02 Mar 10 |  Man Utd
Who are the Red Knights?
11 Mar 10 |  Man Utd


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