New Man Utd bidder emerges with strong message to rival parties: 'Billionaire sheikhs making clubs their personal playgrounds isn't healthy!'

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Finish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus has entered the race to buy Manchester United and pitched himself as the voice of supporters.
  • Zilliacus joins race to buy Man Utd
  • Finnish entrepreneur made thinly-veiled dig at Sheikh Jassim
  • He is proposing a model with heavy involvement from fans

WHAT HAPPENED? Zilliacus, the former chairman of Finnish football giants HJK Helsinki, has declared his interest in buying Manchester United and submitted a bid through investment firm XXI Century Capital. He has also taken a swipe at his potential rivals to take control of the Red Devils, in particular Qatari Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

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WHAT THEY SAID: "Any sport club ultimately should belong to its fans,” he said in an official statement. "The current development, where billionaire sheiks and oligarchs take over clubs and control them as their personal playgrounds is not a healthy trend."

Zilliacus will put up half the money to buy United through investors and have the other half owned by supporters, who would pay a nominal fee to vote on club matters. "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," he added.

"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."

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THE BIGGER PICTURE: Sheikh Jassim and INEOS were seen as the two main rivals to buy United from the Glazer family but now more candidates are emerging, including Zilliacus and former AC Milan owners Elliot Management, a US-based hedge fund.


Sir Jim Ratcliffe Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani

WHAT NEXT FOR MANCHESTER UNITED? Erik ten Hag's side visit Newcastle in the Premier League on April 2 after the international break.