Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus enters the race to buy Man Utd and offers unique fan ownership model
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Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus is planning to bid for Manchester United in the latest twist in battle for the Premier League club.
The Glazer family have owned United since 2005 and in November confirmed they wanted to "explore strategic alternatives" for the club, including a full sale.
British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani are expected to submit second bids for the club on Thursday after a deadline was extended at their request amid confusion on Wednesday night.
Several other parties are believed to be trying to negotiate a full sale with Raine, the investment bank conducting the sale on behalf of the Glazers, with others looking to make a smaller investment in return for a partial stake in the club.
The Glazers are believed to be seeking £6bn for the club, which would be a world-record fee for a sports team if paid.
On Thursday, the bidding war took an unexpected turn when Finnish entrepreneur Zilliacus announced his intention to buy United.
According to The Mirror, Zilliacus made his wealth through novaM Group, a social media group, and is planning to submit his offer through another company - XXI Century Capital.
He plans to introduce a form of fan ownership at United if his bid is successful, allowing supporters an equal say in the running of the club via an app.
"Any sport club ultimately should belong to its fans. 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.
Who is Thomas Zilliacus?
Zilliacus is a former chairman of 32-time Finnish football champions HJK and is also an owner of Finland's six-time ice hockey champions Jokerit.
Explaining how he plans to buy United, Zilliacus added: "The current market value of the club is just under $3.9bn (£3.17bn). 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. 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.
🚨💰 JUST IN:— UtdPlug (@UtdPlug) March 23, 2023
Thomas Zilliacus, Finnish entrepreneur founder and chairman of novaM Group, yesterday presented a takeover offer for Manchester United through XXI Century Capital, an investment company. @pressat #MUFC pic.twitter.com/5mcvXZCuQj
"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."
Zilliacus's proposal, in particular his view on fan ownership, will appeal to many United supporters, who have been deeply unhappy with the direction of the club under the Glazers.
"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," added Zilliacus.
"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."
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Topics: Manchester United, Football, Premier League