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Campaign

News

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 grip.

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 in...
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 long run'?

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.

The message is clear...
Murdoch needs United.
United 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

  1. Don't respond to the BSkyB "Offer". Hang onto your shares at all costs.

  2. 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
    Field House
    15-25 Bream's Buildings
    London EC4A 1PR

  3. 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

  4. Write to the Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Mandelson, the man who takes the next important decision. Get in touch with him at:

    Rt Hon Peter Mandelson MP
    Department of Trade and Industry
    1 Victoria Street
    London SWlH OET
    Fax 0171 215 5468

  5. 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.

  6. Join our campaign get in touch with us at the address over the page. We need your help.

  7. 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 consulted.
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.

Parliamentary Lobby

Tuesday 27th October 1998 - 1 pm

Free Travel details from Manchester, please contact IMUSA

Contacting the campaign

To keep informed about all the latest developments or to make a donation, contact:

IMUSA
PO Box 69,
Stretford,
M32 OUZ

SUAM
1 Sumburgh Road,
London,
SW12 8AJ

e-mail: [email protected]

Cheques should be made payable to "IMUSA"

 


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