March 24 – The race to buy Manchester United is hotting up with little-known Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus entering the fray.
In a unique proposal, Zilliacus wants to buy half of the club with the other half bought by fans, who will be part of major decision-making.
He joins Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe who were the only publicly declared bidders until Zilliacus announced his offer.
“Any sport club ultimately should belong to its fans. My bid is built on equality with fans,” said Zilliacus, who took a swipe at certain fatcat foreign owners without naming them.
“The current development, where billionaire sheiks and oligarchs take over clubs and control them as their personal playgrounds is not a healthy trend,” he said.
“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 per fan.”
Zilliacus, who has previously been involved with HJK Helsinki and ice hockey champions Jokerit in his homeland, is the founder and chairman of new social media group novaM Group. He wants to buy United through XXI Century Capital, which is an investment firm owned by his holding company.
United’s current owners, the controversial Glazer family, began looking at options to sell in November, 17 years after they bought the club for £790 million.
Zilliacus said he hoped the Glazers would want “to go down in history as sellers who enabled the fans of Manchester United to become owners of the club”.
“I want the fans to feel that they have a say in all the key sporting decisions of the club.”
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