Shareholders United

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Shareholders United is a pressure group whose members are shareholding supporters of Manchester United F.C.. The group wants the football club to remain independent.

The group believes that fans can demonstrate their commitment to the club by owning shares in it. It maintains that the best interests of the club are served by supporters who, it claims, understand and care about the club more than any business conglomerate. Shareholders United also claims that the cost of going to see matches would be made prohibitively expensive if the club were taken over.

The group was founded in 1998 as 'Shareholders United Against Murdoch', to stop a proposed takeover by Australian-American media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. His bid for control of the club was blocked by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The group then changed its name simply to Shareholders United, and began to defend United against any other takeover.

In 2004, the American businessman Malcolm Glazer made an attempt to buy the club, but was rebuffed by the PLC board because of the large amount of borrowing his bid would rely on. They felt that he would mortgage the club's future to pay for his bid. Shareholders United, together with IMUSA, organised demonstrations before matches, first before an important league match against Arsenal to show the board that supporters were against the takeover, and later before a Champions League match against AC Milan, when thousands of supporters marched to demonstrate to Glazer that they would not welcome him if he bought the club. They also encouraged members to form flash mobs, where large groups congregated at shops owned by the club's sponsors to temporarily prevent the shops from trading. The purpose of this was to warn the sponsors that supporters would boycott their products if they continued their links with the club after a takeover.

When the United board refused to recommend Glazer's initial bid, it was seen as a victory for Shareholders United, but in May 2005 Glazer was able to purchase the 28% of shares owned by John Magnier and JP McManus, and, as of 23 May, 2005 has around 76.16% of the club's shares, enough shares to de-list United from the stock exchange, making the club privately owned.

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