Manchester United denies takeover

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Manchester United denied a report on Sunday which said the soccer club was on the verge of being taken over by a trio of billionaires.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Manchester United denied a report on Sunday which said the soccer club was on the verge of being taken over by a trio of billionaires. A front page report in a British Sunday newspaper, the Observer said three separate bidders - a Russian, another European and Middle Eastern man - were seeking advice on how to buy the club. The British paper, citing unnamed sources, said the takeover bid would be 600 million pounds (960 million US dollars). United spokesman Paddy Harverson said the report was "pure speculation." And the club's fans have mostly greeted the rumours with hostility. On Sunday a group of Chinese business people was visiting the club's home ground, Old Trafford in Manchester, underlining the team's popularity worldwide. Speculation over United's financial position has grown in recent weeks, particularly since Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon left Old Trafford to join Chelsea. Russian oil tycoon Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in June for 150 million pounds (240 million US dollars) and then spent more than 100 million pounds (160 million US dollars) on buying 11 players for the club. But some analysts think Manchester United would take a lot to acquire. "I'm sure (Roman) Abramovich looked at Manchester United before he acquired Chelsea and if he looked at Manchester United why didn't he move, given his wealth? And I think he didn't move, not because of the atmosphere and all those stories, it's because it's too big to buy and actually the amount of scrutiny if one attempted to buy Manchester United would be vast," said Tom Cannon, a financial analyst Fans outside Old Trafford on Sunday were not keen on the idea of such a takeover taking place. "These people are dipping their toes into the water to see how the supporters feel. Well, every time they dip their toes into the water we're going to be biting them off," said a Manchester United fan. "The man that has bought Chelsea (Abramovich), I mean when the novelty has worn off with him where is Chelsea going to end up? That's how I think of it, it's like a child with a new toy isn't it?" said another Manchester United fan. "I hope you will keep like this. I don't want foreigners to take over," said a Chinese visitor. Two other English clubs are owned by foreigners - Mohammed Al Fayed owns Fulham and Serb Milan Mandaric owns Portsmouth. (AP)

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