Fan investment and app voting: Finnish entrepreneur’s unique bid to buy Man Utd

Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus has launched a surprise, unconventional bid to buy Manchester United that would allow supporters a degree of control in the club.

The 69-year-old, founder of investment company Mobile FutureWorks Group, is based in Singapore and involved in a wide range of business globally.

His offer is, according to Zilliacus, based on “equality with the fans”.

A former owner of clubs in Finland and Singapore, Zilliacus has suggested he is able to finance half of a bid for the club, with the other half contributed by fans via a newly-formed company.

Were Zilliacus’s offer to be successful, an app would give Manchester United supporters who invested the ability to vote on footballing matters related to the Old Trafford club.

“Any sport club ultimately should belong to its fans,” a statement from Zilliacus said. “The current development, where billionaire sheikhs and oligarchs take over clubs and control them as their personal playgrounds is not a healthy trend.

“The current market value of the club is just under $3.9 billion. 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 six dollars. 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 three 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.”

Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe, owner of Ineos, are two other publically declared bidders for Manchester United and considered the favourites if the Glazer family elect to sell the club. US investment group Elliott Management are also interested in purchasing a minority stake in the club.

A deadline for potential bidders to submit proposals was reportedly extended on Wednesday night.

Zilliacus believes that any new owner has a duty beyond simply matters on the field.

“Manchester United should not only be the best football club in the world, it should also be the leading club in the world in working to stop abuse, racism and hate speech in social media and on sports grounds.

“Should we be successful in our bid we will ensure that Manchester United, the best football club in the world, will operate on a foundation of respect, equality, dignity, diversity, racial harmony and democracy, and with its global fan base included and involved in all decisions.”

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