Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus throws hat in ring to buy Manchester United

Businessman says he wants to buy half of Premier League club with fans purchasing the other half

Thomas Zilliacus says his bid to buy Manchester United 'is built on equality with fans'. Bloomberg
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Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus has said that he has thrown his hat in the ring to buy Manchester United.

Zilliacus, who has previously been involved with HJK Helsinki football club and ice hockey champions Jokerit in his homeland, is the founder and chairman of new social media group novaM Group.

He now wants to buy half of United – through XXI Century Capital, an investment firm owned by his holding company – with the other half purchased by fans, who will then be involved in the club's decision-making process.

Zilliacus joins two other parties that have publicly declared an interest in buying the club. A Qatari consortium, led by Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, has already tabled an improved offer above its initial £4.5 billion debt-free bid, according to reports.

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe is expected to increase his first offer of less than £4.5 billion but said recently that he would not pay a “stupid” price in a bidding war for one of football's most famous clubs.

Interested parties had until 9pm GMT on Wednesday to put their bids in but the deadline has since been extended.

“Any sport club ultimately should belong to its fans. My bid is built on equality with fans,” said Zilliacus in a statement.

“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 $6.

Manchester United fans have long protested against current club owners the Glazer family. EPA

“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 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 said that he had no concerns that the bid deadline had since been extended to let others make last minute changes. “Our bid might need some fine-tuning,” he admitted.

It is believed United's owners, the Glazer family, value the club at £6 billion ($7.3 billion) which would be a world record price for a sports club should it go through.

Updated: March 24, 2023, 7:06 AM