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Manchester United bidder Thomas Zilliacus has conducted an interview after claiming to have submitted a proposal to buy the club. Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and petrochemicals billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe have both remained comparatively quiet since launching bids of their own, with current owners the Glazers mulling over what to do next.
For much of the process so far, Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe have led the way with the clearest intentions to acquire the Red Devils. The Glazers reportedly want £6billion to surrender the club and second offers were submitted last week.
Finnish entrepreneur Zilliacus also claims to be in the running with a unique fan-led approach that he hopes will win over United fans, who have endured years of frustration during the Glazers’ stewardship.
Zilliacus’ maverick image was only enhanced in a recent interview with NOS which, according to the Dutch outlet, was organised in a matter of minutes after sending a message on Whatsapp. The Finn admitted that fan involvement does not extend to having an input in transfer policy, however, as he explained why it would ‘not be a good plan’.
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“We still have to think it through carefully,” he added. “It’s more about the bigger picture, the course-determining issues that I want to involve them in. Do we focus on talents or do we get big stars? That kind of thing.”
Amid the prospect of stepping into the boardroom at Old Trafford, Zilliacus has not hidden his feelings about current United boss Erik ten Hag, who ended the club’s silverware drought in his first season by storming to Carabao Cup glory last month.
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“From what I’ve seen, he’s a brilliant manager,” Zilliacus continued. “What he did with Ajax was amazing and what he’s done now with Manchester United is equally amazing. He had the courage, which I really admire, to tell even big established stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo ‘look, this is me running this and this is how I need to do’.
“And that led Ronaldo to leave the club which now seems to have been a good move, because the club is doing significantly better without him. I really hope that he stays with the club and if I become the owner I’d definitely want to see him continue.”
Zilliacus’ fan-led approach has certainly given supporters something to ponder, although his valuation of the Red Devils suggests that he may not be prepared to meet the Glazers’ extortionate price tag.
“At the moment the market value of Manchester United is £3.2billion,” he explained. “Of course, after a long experience in the business world, I understand that you will have to pay a lot for such a club. How much exactly? That will become clear in the negotiations. Twenty percent on top? Maybe forty. Or more…”
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