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Man United sale: Fans stage latest protests against Glazers

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MANCHESTER, May 1 (AP): Days after a third round of bidding for Manchester United, the Premier League club’s supporters stepped up efforts to drive out American owners, the Glazer family.

A protest was held outside United’s Old Trafford stadium ahead of Sunday’s game against Aston Villa.

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Fans were urged to wait until 18 minutes after kickoff to take their seats, to represent the 18 years that the Glazers have been in control of the storied soccer team.

A large group held up a banner that read “Full Sale Only” amid fears the owners may yet retain a majority or minority stake, despite inviting offers for their shares after announcing plans to “explore strategic alternatives” in November.

On Friday, Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe submitted their latest bids for the club.

It is estimated the price for United could reach around $6 billion if a full sale goes through.

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Supporters, however, have grown increasingly concerned that the Glazers could remain in charge and are continuing their attempts to drive them out.

As well as protests outside the stadium, there were also chants inside, urging the family, which also owns the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to sell up.

American merchant bank Raine Group is handling the potential sale, with Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe the leading contenders to take over, based on the publicly confirmed bids.

It is also possible the Glazers could sell a minority stake or take up other funding options.

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United fans have repeatedly tried to force the Glazers out, with many angered by the nature of their leveraged $1.4 billion buyout in 2005.

The decline of the team’s success over the past 10 years has further fuelled unrest.

Sheikh Jassim has stated he will invest in the stadium, training center and playing squad in a bid to “return the club to its former glories both on and off the pitch.”

Ratcliffe, who was born in Failsworth, Greater Manchester, has stated his intention to take a “fan-centered approach to ownership” and make United the “No. 1 club in the world once again.”

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