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Red Knights take giant strides

A street pedlar sells green and gold scarves outside Old Trafford
Green and gold scarves have become the emblem of the Red Knights

By Dan Roan
BBC Sports Correspondent

The Red Knights have enjoyed their best day yet as the tussle over the future ownership of Manchester United enters a crucial phase.

First, the world wakes up to pictures of Old Trafford legend David Beckham draped in a green and gold scarf, a publicity boost described to me as "priceless" by a senior Red Knight I spoke to.

Then came confirmation that the group of investors seeking to buy the club from the Glazer family had recruited Nomura to help.

The support of the biggest investment bank in Japan will only enhance the potential for more significant investment from the Far East, where the club's popularity is considerable.

David Beckham
David Beckham appeared to back the fans by donning a protest scarf

The same Red Knight told me he was delighted by the appointment and what he believes is real momentum behind their campaign.

Guy Dawson, who will lead Nomura's team, advised United's board when the club was sold to the Glazers in 2005.

Now he will speak to the 70 wealthy individuals who have expressed an interest in investing in the takeover bid, explore the possibility of a sale with the Glazers, whom he knows well, and try to come up with a timetable that could lead to a bid.

"This is a significant next step for us," a spokesman for the Red Knights told me. "This is the start of the process, but it's good to have Nomura on board to help us structure a deal."

Until now, the Red Knights have been a fledgling campaign, with expressions of interest but no money changing hands.

This statement of intent proves they are serious about making an offer to the Glazers and persuading them to walk away from the club.

Interestingly, I am told that the Red Knights have now turned away two mystery 'super-investors', worth hundreds of millions of pounds, that had offered their support to the cause.

606: DEBATE
UTD-4-EVER

The intention is to only accept financial help from genuine Manchester United supporters and members of the Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST), which now number 130,000.

This makes Dawson's task a complex and unprecedented one, but he believes the project is credible.

The Red Knights believe they will need to raise between £800m and £1bn, but they appreciate Dawson may need months before he is in a position to make a formal offer to the Glazers.

Despite Nomura's involvement, a Glazer's spokesman told me: "The club is not for sale and we are in it for the long run."

Dawson was a key player five years ago when United was sold to the Glazers. Now his challenge is to help buy the club back from them.



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see also
Red Knights get advisers for bid
11 Mar 10 |  Business
Ferguson rejects Red Knights link
07 Mar 10 |  Man Utd
Man Utd suitors 'won't overpay'
05 Mar 10 |  Business
Glazers receive backing from Gill
03 Mar 10 |  Business
Who are the Red Knights?
11 Mar 10 |  Man Utd
Financiers 'discuss Man Utd bid'
02 Mar 10 |  Man Utd
Manchester United debt hits 716m
20 Jan 10 |  Business
Glazer wins control of Man United
12 May 05 |  Business


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