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No to Murdoch

Save our game - United for United

The events of the last few weeks have rocked the football and financial worlds. Rupert Murdoch and the Plc Board have had months to plan and discuss the proposed takeover of our Club and as fans we are still trying to absorb the enormity of the announcement and the issues involved. Alex Ferguson has not spoken out in favour of the deal anywhere in the press but has said that the supporters are of the upmost importance in any football club. You can interpret that how you wish but has he ever been reticent to speak out on major issues before?

Like regular readers of this fanzine IMUSA has been aware that Murdoch had been sniffing around United for some time. Nevertheless the nature of the announcement took many by surprise. IMUSA's phones began ringing at 6am on Sunday 6th September and have not stopped since. We have launched a huge worldwide campaign to stop the proposed takeover because we believe that it is not in the interests of MUFC or its fans. IMUSA has never claimed to represent all United fans but we are very careful to canvass opinion as widely as possible. Large numbers of Reds contact us on a regular basis to express their views, and we organised the meeting at The Bridgewater Hall to allow everyone the chance to discuss the proposals. The MEN polls have shown up to 96% are against the deal. We can never speak for everybody but we do speak for a large number of match-going Reds. Ordinary supporters, that have seen their Club being dragged away from them by City types and big business.

The current Plc Board have paid little attention to fans concerns since the establishment of the Plc in 1991. Many fans have felt powerless to stop them, it is IMUSA's view that this is a step too far, if this bid is not stopped then our Club will be gone from us forever.

The simplest objection to the takeover bid is that for the first time in our existence the Club will not be independent, we will become part of a large corporation. We will no longer be Manchester United but BSkyB's Manchester United. Those who currently hold shares in MUFC plc will hold shares Murdoch's company. Decisions on how our Club is to be run will be taken on the other side of the world. If you read how Murdoch has done his business elsewhere history is littered with companies swallowed up and stripped of assets and money to pay for further acquisitions to develop Murdoch's global business strategy. He has been quoted as saying that he uses sport as a 'battering ram' to sell his TV services. MUFC is a cash-rich and successful independent business in its own right we do not need Rupert Murdoch - he needs us. Three years ago News International came close to collapse. MUFC will become a 'cash-cow', used to subsidise Murdoch's operations elsewhere.

Murdoch's papers and the MEN have been telling us that we can now go out and buy any player we want to with Rupert's money behind us. Yet, BSkyB have not given any assurances that money will be invested into the Club at all. Do you not think that they would have clearly stated that they intended to make money available if it were the case? All we have had at best is speculation from those who would try to con fans into thinking that this is a good deal for our Club. Besides we already have the money anyway, what we do not have is a Board with the wit or the will to make that money available to Alex Ferguson. The current Board look after themselves and shareholders first, and the team and the fans second. We need to have a Board that cares about the team and the Club as much as we do. By agreeing to sell our Club this shower have placed themselves outside the Manchester United family, showing that they care more about their own personal financial gain than MUFC, a fact that should not be news to many Reds. Financially we are the biggest football club in the world yet we do not compete on an equal footing with the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich or any one of a number of Italian clubs. The examples are legion, the ambition of the Plc lower than that of the average Red.

All the assurances that were given verbally, at Sky's press conference, by Mark 'who plays left back for United' Booth could have been given in a legally binding contract of undertakings - they weren't. Why not? Martin Edwards negotiated a legally binding agreement for himself, securing his 80 million plus deal for his shares. If he has the interests of MUFC at heart why did he not secure our future in a legal document that Sky could not later wriggle out of? The truth is that Martin Edwards looks after Martin Edwards, he has already made over 34 million pounds on share dealings alone out of this club and wants another 80 million plus, the man's greed knows no bounds.

Some senior City analysts and financial advisors have stated that MUFC is potentially worth almost double what Murdoch has agreed to pay. Indeed two members of the Plc argued a similar point at the Board meetingbefore the bid was accepted. United could secure the financial riches that are to be had from PPV and digital TV on our own why let Murdoch cream off the profits for himself instead of having it ploughed back into the Club and football.

As football fans we wish to see our team win every competition we enter, reality is that we don't, indeed losing is half the game, it makes the winning all the more exciting. We would hope that whoever owns our club would share that same ambition. BSkyB have already stated that they do not wish to see MUFC win everything. The reason being that it is not good entertainment, it does not sell satellite dishes to have United winning everything in sight. Don't believe us? - this is what Vic Wakeling said on Piccadilly Radio on the Saturday following the acceptance of the bid:

'What we don't want to happen in English football is perhaps what's happened in Scottish football. To take one example where Rangers won nine titles in a row.'

Vic Wakeling is the Head of Sky Sports, rumoured to be a candidate for United's post of Chief Executive. The man who could be running our club has said that he does not wish to see us win every competition that we enter, he does not even wish to see us emulate what Rangers have done North of the border. If you want to check it out further write to him or anybody else at Sky and ask them the direct question.

BSkyB Ltd Grant Way,
Isleworth,
Middlesex
TW7 5QD,
or fax them on 0171 705 3113.

Where does all this leave us now? IMUSA held a highly successful meeting at The Bridgewater Hall at which almost a thousand Reds had the first opportunity to discuss the issues. This, the largest meeting ever of United fans decided that we must now put pressure on all interested parties to ensure that this bid is referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, if that happens then Sky have stated that this bid would fall. The importance of this cannot be over stated, time is needed so that as fans we can have a chance to discuss how we wish to see the future of our club develop. As individuals you can help this process by writing to your MP at Parliament and the Office of Fair Trading at:

Director General of Fair Trading
Field House
15-25 Breams Buildings
London
EC4A 1PR

If you intend to write you must do so urgently, the closing date for the OFT is 28/9/98. [This deadline has now been extended to 2nd November 1998.]

IMUSA desperately needs funds and physical assistance to sustain the campaign, as well as office equipment and stationery. Many people have already given their time and help but more is needed. This is your club don't wait for somebody else to do something it is up to you, together we can stop this bid and hopefully have a say in how our club is to be run in the future. BSkyB's takeover is far from inevitable.

This club has been built on the loyalty of its supporters and the efforts of Matt Busby, Alex Ferguson and great players, past and present. If this is such a great deal why was Alex Ferguson kept in the dark? Look at his comments in the press and, despite being asked he has never spoken out in favour of the deal - read into that what you will and get behind the team.

We are calling upon all Reds to sing the Calypso at 8:30, fifteen minutes before the end of the first half against Liverpool. The choice of song is deliberate as it pays tribute to our heritage and history. A song resurrected by the fans which the Plc and Sky machines have recently tried to bastardise, remember the Keith Fane disco remix? Let everybody know that you care about your club and sing your lungs out for the club you love. At the moment the press and media are saying that you don't care about the club don't let that lie prevail and get behind Alex Ferguson and the team - your team your club.

 


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