Thomas Zilliacus ‘makes Manchester United takeover bid’ with unique opportunity for fans

Thomas Zilliacus ‘makes Manchester United takeover bid’ with unique opportunity for fans

Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus says he has submitted a bid to buy Manchester United.

Zilliacus, founder and chairman of the Mobile FutureWorks Group, went public with his unusual offer for the Premier League giants in a lengthy statement released on Thursday.

In it, Zilliacus said he would finance half the sum needed for the takeover, with fans then required to come together and contribute to purchase the other half through a new company being set up.

He further pledged that every fan who contributes would be given access to an app on which to cast a vote on all footballing issues related to United.

”Any sport club ultimately should belong to its fans,” said Zilliacus, former chairman of Finnish top-flight champions HJK Helsinki and ex-owner of ice hockey outfit Helsingin Jokerit.

“The current development, where billionaire sheiks and oligarks take over clubs and control them as their personal playgrounds is not a healthy trend. The current market value of the club is just under 3.9 billion USD. That means that if every one of the fans of the club would join in buying the club, the total sum per fan would amount to less than 6 dollars. My bid is built on equality with the fans.

“My group will finance half of the sum needed to take over the club, and will ask the fans, through a new company that is being set up for this specific purpose, to participate for the other half. If every fan joins it means less than 3 dollars per fan.

“Each fan who joins will have access to an app which the fan, from anywhere in the world, can use to participate and cast his vote when deciding on footballing matters relating to the club. No decisions will be taken that are not supported by a majority of the fan base.

“Manchester United should not only be the best football club in the world, it should also be the leading club in the world in working to stop abuse, racism and hate speech in social media and on sports grounds.

“Should we be successful in our bid we will ensure that Manchester United, the best football club in the world, will operate on a foundation of respect, equality, dignity, diversity, racial harmony and democracy, and with its global fan base included and involved in all decisions.”

The deadline for latest takeover bids at United was initially set for 9pm GMT on Wednesday night, although the process was subject to confusion when it later transpired that neither Ineos founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe nor Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani - the front-runners in the race - had submitted fresh offers.

However, both will make improved second bids for the club before an extended deadline.

A first round of bidding last month was said to have attracted up to eight separate potential investors, per the Press Association, with current owners the Glazer family setting a reported valuation of £6billion.

Reports emerged on Thursday claiming that Elliott Management, the American investment management firm that previously owned AC Milan, had made an offer to buy a minority stake in United.