Who is Michael Knighton? Former Man Utd board member ‘working on’ takeover offer

The 70-year-old claims Manchester United are in a crisis and described the Glazer family as ‘useless’.

Former Manchester United board member Michael Knighton has said he is working on an offer to buy the club.

The ex-Carlisle United owner and manager claimed that ‘time is up’ on the Red Devils’ unpopular owners the Glazers, in an interview this week.

While serious doubts remain about the chances of Knighton’s takeover coming to fruition, he is a figure who is well known to United fans.

Who is Michael Knighton?

The 70-year-old, who amassed a great personal wealth from property interests, was a footballer in his youth and always had a great interest in the sport.

Michael Knighton pictured juggling a football at Old Trafford in 1989. Credit: Getty.

In 1989, he launched a £30m bid to acquire United, and famously appeared on the pitch before a game dressed in a full kit and doing keepy-ups. Knighton also scored a goal at the Stretford End.

That bid ultimately failed, and the entrepreneur was given a seat on the club’s board of directors. The businessman is partly credited with United’s drive towards commercialism in the 1990s, which contributed to Sir Alex Ferguson’s great sides of the early Premier League years.

In 1992, Knighton bought Carlisle and experienced early success with the Blues, twice gaining promotion and winning the Football League Trophy.

However, he ultimately lost support among the club’s fanbase due to the team’s decline, while only a famous injury-time goal from goalkeeper Jimmy Glass saved Carlisle from dropping out of the Football League in 1999.

The Glazers remain hugely unpopular with United supporters. Credit: Getty.

Knighton also managed the club for 15 months between 1997 and 1998, and ultimately sold Carlisle in 2002.

What did he say?

Knighton revealed his intention to buy United via an interview with fan channel, Man Utd The Religion.

Speaking in the video, he said: "We are a club in crisis and we all know the reason why. We have an inept and frankly useless ownership who know little about this game of football.

"Everyone knows that we need new ownership of this football club and that is my aim and those are my objectives. I am making good progress, continuing to talk to the people, I have got some good pledges and good finance.

"We are now working on the offer document. Remember, it is a hostile bid - that simply means that the club isn’t officially for sale. But my intention is to present these owners with a legitimate, potent and commercial offer to say: ‘You have run out of road, it’s time to go, because your time is up’.

“We need to rid our football club of this ownership as they have had their day, time has run out and we have had 17 years of disappointment, really. It is time for them to go.

"They have to stop drawing these huge dividends out of the club. We have to stop paying these huge debt servicing costs. It is time for them to sell.”

Knighton also explained how he is waiting for Sir Jim Ratcliffe to ‘come forward’ and help support his bid. However, Ratcliffe, who was linked with a bid to buy Chelsea earlier this year, has previously distanced himself from talks of buying United, putting the chances of this takeover being completed into real doubt.

“Putting this bid together, I don’t need to be the front person, I don’t need to be the spokesperson,” Knighton said of Ratcliffe’s involvement. “I just want to see our Manchester United Football Club in the hands of proper football people with proper vision.”