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MANCHESTER UNITED

New bidder enters race for Manchester United: What is Thomas Zilliacus’ net worth?

The takeover of Manchester United is still up in the air and a new bidder has proposed a revolutionary fan-led structure to hand control to the supporters.

Thomas Zilliacus enters the fray with bizarre Man Utd bid
PHIL NOBLEREUTERS

On Wednesday night there was confusion around Old Trafford as neither Sheikh Jassim nor Sir Jim Ratcliffe submitted their expected final bids before the 9pm deadline. Both parties have now requested an extension, but they are not the only bidders in contention for Manchester United.

Finnish Billionaire Thomas Zilliacus has confirmed that he has submitted a radical proposal to take control of the club. Full details of the purchase mechanism have not yet been released but Zilliacus’ proposal would see him buy half of the club and supporters buy the other half, allowing them to be part of the decision-making process.

“Any sport club ultimately should belong to its fans. My bid is built on equality with fans,” Zilliacus said.

Who is Thomas Zilliacus and what’s his net worth?

The Helsinki-born entrepreneur played a key role in Nokia’s growth in Asia, before leaving the company to found the Mobile FutureWorks Group investment group in 1993.

He remains the executive chairman of the group and holds considerable investments in many other companies. Aside from his technology investments, Zilliacus has also previously owned Finnish club HJK and ice hockey giants Jokerit.

His net worth is not publicly known, but it is not thought that he possesses the sort of wealth that either Sheikh Jassim or Ratcliffe have at their disposal.

What is Thomas Zilliacus’ plan for Manchester United?

The Finn is not the type of mega-rich owner that catapulted Chelsea or Manchester City to the top of English football. His proposal is more of a response to the trend of outside investment and in a statement released today he outlined his plan for the club.

“The current development, where billionaire sheiks and oligarchs take over clubs and control them as their personal playgrounds is not a healthy trend.”

He continued: “The current market value of the club is just under $3.9bn (£3.17bn)… 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.”

However while the Finn’s plan for fan engagement is commendable, it is extremely unlikely that the Glazers would countenance a sale at those levels. Fellow Premier League side Chelsea were sold for $5.4bn (£4.25bn) last year in a rushed sale, meaning that United would fetch considerable more.

Even if he were to strike a deal with the Glazer family at his suggested level, it is very difficult to see how he funds the project. For the supporters to buy half of the club at a cost of $3 each, Manchester United would need to have 650 million fans willing to contribute.

The equates to around 10% of the world’s entire adult population.