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Old 21st October 2004, 16:03   #1
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Default IMUSA + SU to meet Harris...

IMUSA + SU to meet Harris...
United Fans Try To Ward Off Glazer
PA, Simon Stone
21st October 2004

Leading figures from Manchester United's most influential fans' groups will meet with financier Keith Harris in London on Thursday to discuss how to ward off a potential takeover from Malcolm Glazer.
The American business tycoon increased his stake in the Old Trafford outfit to 28.1% on Tuesday, sparking off rumours that he was about to launch a formal takeover offer.
While the Press Association understands such a move is not imminent, supporter associations such as Shareholders United and the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association, who have campaigned vigorously against Glazer since he made his preliminary approach to the club on October 4, are on red alert.
Contrary to previous reports there have been no meetings between them and former Football League chairman Harris, whose own stated interest in the club has been treated with caution given his involvement in the ultimately unsuccessful BSkyB bid four years ago.
However, IMUSA chairman Jules Spencer and SU representatives Nick Towle and Oliver Houston have accepted an invitation to meet Harris on a formal basis for the first time this afternoon to identify any areas of common ground.
"Our door has always been open to anyone who wants to discuss the ownership of Manchester United and to work with fans in protecting the club's independence," said Houston.
"We have decided to meet with Keith to see if there are any ways in which he may be able to assist any supporter-led moves to block Malcolm Glazer's takeover attempt.
"Our immediate focus remains deterring Glazer from making a bid at all, through political pressure, legal challenges and a customer revolt.
"Our central aim is to build the collective shareholding of fans through SU's share scheme and our soon-to-be-launched supporters' trust to provide the club and its fans with long-term stability and security.
"We have been approached by many people from the City and by leading figures from the worldwide family of Reds with ideas and offers of help.
"We are growing in size and strength every day, and anyone interested in working with the fans in our club's hour of need should come forward now and talk to us."
Having taken his stake in United to the brink of the 30% threshold that would trigger an outright bid, Glazer is currently considering his options.
It is difficult to see how he could launch a formal takeover without the approval of major shareholders John Magnier and JP McManus, who own 28.9% through their Cubic Expression investment vehicle but broke off talks with Glazer last week.
If he does not intend to pursue a bid, Glazer must inform United, who in turn would ask the Takeover Panel to take them out of the Offer Period they currently find themselves in, a move which would preclude the American from launching a move to buy the club for a further six months.

"Today is purely a fact-finding mission for us but we are prepared to listen to what Harris has to say," added Spencer.
"As a supporters' group we want to look at any viable alternative to a possible Glazer takeover.
"If he can come up with a plan which we think will benefit the club and ordinary supporters, we would be prepared to work with him to make it a reality."
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