Ex-Manchester United director Michael Knighton in talks with 'three billionaires' to takeover club
A businessman says he is in talks with several billionaires to bid to takeover Manchester United after claims the current owners have turned the club into a "theatre of nightmares".
Michael Knighton, a former United director, confirmed he has put together a consortium interested in buying the club - but insisted he will not be running it himself if the deal were to go through.
It comes after increasing pressures for United's current owners to sell the Red Devils following back-to-back defeats in the Premier League.
The Glazers, an American family who made their money from real estate, took over Old Trafford in 2005 and have overseen a sharp decline in the club in recent years.
Supporters staged several"relentless" protests against the Glazer brother owners after claiming the club is "a mess".
Speaking to ITV News, former Manchester United director Michael Knighton said: "They've damaged the brand.
"This is not personal against the Glazers, they just always had the wrong model."
He went on to say that they have turned the club from a "theatre of a dreams to a theatre of nightmares" and that he "had to make a stand."
The 70-year-old had a bid to buy the Red Devils accepted in 1989 and even appeared on the pitch at Old Trafford to celebrate his impending takeover - but it never happened.
However, he now believes he can get hold of the club, explaining that he has been speaking to three potential partners to put forward a deal.
"They are small-time billionaires that I have been speaking to for three to four months now", Knighton explains.
"When I was approached by some fan groups, oddly enough, saying 'look, our club is dying on its feet' would you please do something?'
"I made a few phone calls and I've been pulling this consortium together ever since.
"We are not the great Sir Jim Ratcliffe. We do not have those resources. We are not some nation state sovereign fund who has oil revenue of two billion a day.
"The point is: someone had to make a stand."
Michael Knighton says he has approached the British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who tried to buy Chelsea FC, to purchase Manchester United.
Knighton went on to say they have approached Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the British billionaire chemical engineer and businessman, to buy the club.
He said: "If we can smoke the great Sir Jim out to buy Manchester United my consortium will be punching the air because we've achieved what we want to do.
"We will make the bid with our own consortium but, I'll tell you this, we do not have the resources available to do everything that is needed."
Knighton insists that, while he leads the consortium, he would not be the man to run Manchester United. Instead he would take up a consultancy role.
The decline in the club's recent results has fueled rumours that Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the world's most famous footballers, is set to leave Manchester United for pastures new.
Knighton says, if he was in charge, he would fight to keep him at the club for the next ten to twenty years, maybe making him manager one day.
He said: "He's an achiever. The greatest footballer achiever ever. He will want to be in an environment that can achieve and that is competitive and has ambition.
"Manchester United has none of those things."
Mr Knighton says he was "happy" to sign the "metaphorical death warrant" for the Glazer ownership of United after they agreed to participate in the European Super League.
"What the current owners didn't know is that they were actually issuing their own death warrant - metaphorically speaking", he said.
"I was happy to sign that warrant because that proved to me that they don't understand the English game of football."
After spending several years on the Old Trafford board, Knighton left in 1992 to buy Carlisle United, who were at the time bottom of the football league.
He claimed he could build the club up to return them to the top league of English football, like they were in the 1974-1975 season.
Carlisle won Division Three and a promotion in 1995, with a record number of 91 points, during Knighton's seven year reign, before he called parted ways with the club.
Comparing his time at Carlisle United with the Glazers' time at Old Trafford, he said: "When my time was up, when the writing was on the wall, I had to go.
"It taught me 'don't hang on for grim death'. Funny, that the Glazers appear to be doing just that. Mark my words, deep down they know they have run out of road."
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