Finnish businessman says he has bid for Man United; wants fans to own half

Who remains in the race to buy Manchester United? (1:43)

Rob Dawson updates on the race to buy Manchester United from the Glazer family. (1:43)

Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus said he has submitted a bid to buy Manchester United that would see him put up half the funds with the other half coming from the club's fans.

Zilliacus, owner of Finnish champions HJK Helsinki, said his bid was submitted through XXI Century Capital, an investment firm owned by his holding company.

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"Any sport club ultimately should belong to its fans" Zilliacus said in a statement Thursday. "The current development, where billionaire sheiks and oligarchs take over clubs and control them as their personal playgrounds is not a healthy trend."

Manchester United's current owners, the Glazer family, announced in November they were looking at "strategic alternatives" including investment or a full sale. Sources have told ESPN that the Gazers value the club at around £6 billion ($7.4bn), which would be a record fee paid for a sports team.

The Raine Group, the merchant bank handling the process for the Glazer family, had set a deadline of Wednesday for second bids to be submitted. However, an extension was granted to some potential buyers on Wednesday night, sources told ESPN.

Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim and British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and CEO of chemical company INEOS, are the only bidders to have previously made their interest public.

Ratcliffe submitted revised bid on Thursday, an INEOS spokesperson said in a statement. Sources said that Sheikh Jassim is also ready to submit a second offer.

However, Zilliacus, a former Nokia executive who also owns Finnish ice hockey team Jokerit, says his novel funding approach would allow fans to take part in the running of the Premier League giants.

"The current market value of the club is just under $3.9 billion," Zilliacus said. "That means that if every one of the fans of the club would join in buying the club, the total sum per fan would amount to less than $6.

"My bid is built on equality with the fans. My group will finance half of the sum needed to take over the club, and will ask the fans, through a new company that is being set up for this specific purpose, to participate for the other half. If every fan joins it means less than $3 per fan.

"Each fan who joins will have access to an app which the fan, from anywhere in the world, can use to participate and cast his vote when deciding on footballing matters relating to the club. No decisions will be taken that are not supported by a majority of the fan base."

Man United claim to have 1.1 billion fans worldwide, based on a 2019 report from global market research agency, Kantar.