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Finnish businessman makes surprise bid for Manchester United

The bid would see Thomas Zilliacus purchase half the club with fans purchasing the other half.

Manchester Unitedin Bruno Fernandes laukoo palloa.
File photo. Manchester United on the pitch at a recent match. Image: Getty Images
Yle News

Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus announced that he has submitted a bid to purchase the English Premier League club Manchester United.

Zilliacus, who has chaired the Helsinki football club HJK and been a part owner of the ice hockey club Jokerit, said that he plans to purchase the club in cooperation with its supporters.

"Any sport club ultimately should belong to its fans," Zilliacus said in a press release issued on Thursday.

He emphasised that his bid will allow Manchester United fans to have ownership and an equal say in the club's affairs.

"The current development, where billionaire sheiks and oligarchs take over clubs and control them as their personal playgrounds is not a healthy trend,” Zilliacus noted.

According to Forbes, Manchester United is the 19th most valuable sports team in the world and the most valuable in the Premier League.

Zilliacus' fan-owned bid

Zilliacus then went on to lay out his proposal to fans of the Red Devils.

“The current market value of the club is just under 3.9 billion US dollars. That means that if every one of the fans of the club would join in buying it, the total sum per fan would amount to less than six dollars," Zilliacus said.

Zilliacus said that his bid would see him finance half of the club with his private investment firm XXI Century Capital and the other half would be purchased by the fans. According to Zilliacus' calculation, shares would amount to roughly three dollars per fan.

The businessman added that a mobile app would be developed for the fans-turned-shareholders to have their voice heard in decisions relating to the club by casting a vote.

Manchester United's current owner, the American Glazer family, has said the club is for sale. For example, British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe and Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim have offered bids for the club.

Zilliacus is the founder and chair of FutureWorks Group, an online media and sales company. He was previously head of Nokia's business in Asia.

In 2014, Zilliacus got his social media company Yuuzoo listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange. The company ran into trouble in 2018 when a former employee alleged that it violated the local securities market law. The company's operations were suspended in 2019 because the money ran out.

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