What we have done so far
0rganised the Bridgewater Hall Rally
When the takeover was announced, IMUSA hired (with the generous
backing of Queen drummer Roger Taylor) the biggest available hall in
Manchester. On a wet Tuesday night, sandwiched between two home games
over 700 people attended - the largest ever such gathering in
Manchester. Not one person who attended that evening supported the
takeover. Jim White and Michael Crick - who formed Shareholders United
Against Murdoch (SUAM) in response to the deal - spoke and a 'battle
plan' was drawn up. The first target agreed on was to try and stall
the decision making process.
Stalling the decision
We succeeded in making sure enough pressure was applied on the
politicians to make sure the deal couldn't just go through "on
the nod." Despite the timing of the announcement, the OFT
received an unprecedented number of so-called 'submissions' written
largely by United fans.
Opposition has also been voiced by the FA, the PFA and the Premier
League, to the bid.
That worked - the OFT have had to delay their decision making to take
on board the comments of the fans. Peter Mandelson now has to decide
whether the takeover is to go to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission
for further investigation. We believe that, if he decides to refer the
bid, BSkyB will withdraw their offer. That's how close we are to
stopping the deal.
Gained support amongst politicians
MPs from the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats as well as the
Labour Party have pledged their support, from Redwood to Skinner. It
is now very difficult for the Government to be seen to be giving
Rupert Murdoch favours, but the pressure must be kept up.
We intend to do that by going down to Westminster later this month and
talking to MPs face-to-face.
Put forward the counter view in the media
Stacked against the might of The Sun, The Times and The News of the
World, (not to mention the Manchester Evening News, who are too
frightened to defend Manchester's most famous institution) a massive
media campaign has been waged to get out our message: That being taken
over by BSkyB is bad for the club and CAN BE STOPPED.
Martin Edwards says he is willing to "argue the toss" one
minute but the next refuses to discuss the takeover on air with us,
with SUAM or indeed with any concerned supporters.
Channelled public support
The campaign to stop the takeover is as global as Rupert Murdoch's
own business empire.
IMUSA has coordinated and conducted the campaign. Hundreds, if not
thousands, of Reds worldwide have made a contribution - either giving
up time or donating cash to the campaign, seeing the impact the deal
will have on the club in the long term.
IMUSA have been to visit banks in the City of London, politicians and
legal advisors. All say the deal can be stopped - we are close, and
with your support we WILL stop this takeover.
Why we oppose the takeover
Murdoch and United are a 'Marriage Made in Heaven : Right?
Murdoch has gone on the record as saying sports is the
"Battering Ram" with which he can sell his TV services. We
will be nothing more than a convenient tool. Does Rupert Murdoch
support United? Will he listen to the views of match going supporters
before making decisions? Will he be more concerned with the football
or his business? Will decisions about the Club be taken in Manchester
or a plane somewhere between London and New York? Murdoch has claimed
the deal will be self financing in only three years. Money goes out of
the Club now - but at least we can voice our opinions to the board, in
Manchester, at the AGM. Alex Ferguson already has one arm tied behind
his back in the transfer market. Don't let the money men tighten their
We would have the money to buy the best players in the world...
If only this were true! Murdoch owns almost 800 different
businesses. To avoid paying tax, company funds are shuffled from
tax-haven to tax-haven. United profits, your Sky subscriptions (like
everybody else's) will end up not in Manchester, or even London, but
being moved into offshore accounts in Mauritius, Fiji and Cuba. Has
BSkyB told supporters what share of the profits will be kept by
United? Don't be fooled by the extent of Murdoch's empire. Murdoch's
business interests are, by the admission of his own executives, a
complex web of financial transactions. Already there is an embargo on
transfers over £1 million.
But with Murdoch's wealth backing us and United's support, the
club can't lose, right?
We know that News Corporation, Murdoch's parent company has as much
as thirteen billion dollars in outstanding debt and other liabilities.
We also know that Murdoch has taken out a line of credit to help pay
for buying United, the interest on which runs to £47 million per
year. In the last recession the company nearly went bust, this time
around he's already scrapped plans to sell shares in Fox.
United generate cash. Murdoch's other activities - set top boxes,
satellites and satellite dishes, cable networks in China and the Far
East use cash. Just put two and two together...
Surely Murdoch will want a successful United to sell his TV
dishes and set top boxes?
That's what they also said in Los Angeles when he bought the
Dodgers. He then promptly sold a star player to a team in Florida,
whose owner also happened to run a TV station Murdoch was interested
That's what they also said in Australia when Murdoch cashed in on the
boom in Rugby League - by pulling the sport apart and driving
supporters into the arms of Australian Rules Football.
Vic Wakeling, Managing Director of Sky Sports, has already been quoted
as saying it would not be good for one club to become too successful!
What if the deal is blocked? Won't that damage United in the
Manchester United ARE already the biggest sports attraction in the
world. Do you think that he wouldn't be interested in showing United
games because he was stopped from buying us? Do you think he would
refuse to broadcast United games in a fit of anger? All he wants to do
is expand his business and make money - he can and will still make
money out of United, whether he owns us or not.
message is clear...
Don't need murdoch.
A few weeks ago people were saying "There's nothing we can
do". This is not true. United supporters have already won 'Round
1' of the fight. If every United fan spent just half and hour of their
time doing one of the following, BSkyB won't be seen for dust!
What you can do
Don't respond to the BSkyB "Offer". Hang onto your
shares at all costs.
Write to the Office of Fair Trading.
The peculiar, so-called 'public' process didn't stop
hundreds of United fans writing to the OFT. It is not too late to
do so. Write direct to:
Mr Ray Watson
The Office of Fair Trading
15-25 Bream's Buildings
London EC4A 1PR
Write to your MP.
Over 100 MP's share our concerns about the takeover. Make
sure yours is one of them.
They DO reply.
House of Commons
London SWlA OAA
Write to the Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Mandelson,
the man who takes the next important decision. Get in touch with
Rt Hon Peter Mandelson MP
Department of Trade and Industry
1 Victoria Street
London SWlH OET
Fax 0171 215 5468
Supporters can still buy shares in United and this could
make a difference to the final outcome if there is no MMC
referrals. For instance there are 280 "Instant Dealing"
branches of NatWest where supporters can buy shares and also Wise
Speke stockbrokers in Manchester specialises in MUFC shares -
especially small quantities.
If 10% of shareholders vote "No" to the takeover, then
at least supporters will continue to have some 'nuisance value'
should it go through.
Join our campaign get in touch with us at the address over
the page. We need your help.
Copy this leaflet and distribute it to fellow Reds.
United fans who follow the team home and away will spend upwards of
£2,000 a year for the privilege. A shareholder paying £2.40 for a
share will have more say in how the club is run than the loyal
supporter. Stopping this takeover isn't just about keeping Murdoch
out, unwelcome though he is, but bringing the supporters in.
Democratising United. Whilst Murdoch's bid presents the greatest
threat to United's independence and existence as a football club,
stopping him could present the greatest opportunity for supporters to
change the way United operate.
The Club is up for sale, Edwards wants to sell-out. The fan should
have been given first refusal, not Murdoch, instead we weren't even
If Barcelona can operate so successfully and attract the world class
players who snub United plc, with a system of supporter democracy and
boardroom accountability unheard of in this country, then we as
supporters must raise our expectations off the pitch, to match our
expectations on the pitch.
Tuesday 27th October 1998 - 1 pm
Free Travel details from Manchester, please contact
Contacting the campaign
To keep informed about all the latest developments or to make a
PO Box 69,
1 Sumburgh Road,
e-mail: [email protected]
Cheques should be made payable to "IMUSA"