Nomura and Beckham boost Red Knights’ cause

The Red Knights, the group of City financers looking to seize control of Manchester United, has received a double boost after investment bank Nomura confirmed it will act as an advisor and David Beckham gave its cause an accidental PR boost by donning the colours of an activist fan group.

David Beckham

Nomura has confirmed it will work with the Red Knights, the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) and other potential investors to “coordinate and formulate the proposal” to be put to the club’s current owner’s the Glazer family.

The Red Knights and MUST are angry at the £700m debts the Glazer family has saddled the club with. Their coordinated campaign to oust the Glazers has attracted almost blanket support from Manchester United supporters with membership of MUST now in excess of 110,000.

The majority of the 74,000 in attendance at Old Trafford for the club’s Champions League match against Milan last night (11 March) sang anti-Glazer songs and held green and gold scarves aloft in protest towards the end of the game. Green and gold are the colours of Newton Heath, the founding name of the club.

Former United and now Milan star Beckham wore a scarf passed from the crowd as he left the pitch, a gesture seen by some as an endorsement of the anti-Glazer movement.

However, Beckham denied he has become an ambassador for the anti-Glazer campaign.

“I’m a Man United fan. I saw the scarf there. I put it round my neck, it’s the old colours of Man United, that’s all I knew”, he says, adding “to be honest it’s (the protest) not my business.”

The Red Knights, a group of “high net worth individuals” thought to include Richard Hytner, deputy chairman worldwide at Saatchi and Saatchi and Jim O’Neill, chief economist of investment bank Goldman Sachs, is said to have received offers from as many as 60 individuals pledging between £10 and £20m in support.

The Glazers are understood to value the club at £1.5bn but it is thought that they would accept an offer of £1.2bn to end their controversial ownership of the club.

Manchester United is one of the most attractive sports clubs in the world to sponsors because of its global fanbase. United signed an £80m four-year deal with American insurer Aon last summer and has agreements with Nike, Hi Seoul, Hublot watches and Betfair.

The club recently dropped to third in Deloitte’s “Football Money League”. According to the consultants, Manchester United generated €327m (£278.5m) in 2008/2009 behind Real Madrid, on €401.4m (£341.9m) and Barcelona on €365.9m (£311.7m).

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