Man Utd bidder claims ‘amazing’ Ten Hag will ‘definitely’ stay if he becomes new owner
Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus insists Erik ten Hag’s job is safe if he becomes the new owner of Premier League side Man Utd.
Zilliacus, founder and chairman of investment company Mobile FutureWorks, heads the third group to have publicly declared interest in a club takeover after Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani.
The Finn wants to buy Man Utd in a 50-50 partnership with their fans, who will have a say in the decision-making process at the Premier League club.
When announcing his bid on Thursday, Zilliacus, former chairman of Finnish football team HJK Helsinki and ex-owner of ice hockey club Jokerit, said every Man Utd fan who joins his bid will have access to an app which they can use to vote “when deciding on footballing matters relating to the club.”
A report on Monday insisted that a second round of bids from Zilliacus, Sheikh Jassim, Ratcliffe and other interested parties all ‘remain below the asking price of around £6bn – although there is hope that the Glazers might still accept a compromise fee to allow a takeover at Old Trafford’.
During an interview with Dutch publication NOS, Zilliacus explained how much he would be prepared to pay to take control of the club.
Zilliacus said: “At the moment the market value of Manchester is US$3.9bn. Of course, after a long experience in the business world, I understand that you will have to pay a lot for such a club. How much exactly? That will become clear in the negotiations. Twenty percent on top? Maybe forty. Or more…”
Ten Hag has lead Man Utd to third place in the Premier League and glory in the League Cup so far this campaign, while he still has two more chances of silverware in the Europa League and FA Cup,
And Zilliacus shares the view of Man Utd supporters that Ten Hag has done an “amazing” job at Old Trafford this season and vowed to keep him in the job if he took over the club.
Zilliacus added: “From what I’ve seen, he’s a brilliant manager. What he did with Ajax was amazing and what he’s done now with Manchester United is equally amazing. Because early in the season, things didn’t look very good.
“And he had the courage, which I really admire, to tell even big estabilished stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo ‘look, this is me running this and this is how I need to do’. And that led Ronaldo to leave the club which now seems to have been a good move, because the club is doing significantly better without him.
“I think he’s done an amazing job. So I really hope that he stays with the club and if I would be the owner I’d definitely want to see him continue.”
On why fans shouldn’t worry if he completes a takeover, Zilliacus replied: “Without fans there is no club. When the deal is done and I own the club, I will invite them to buy shares in the club. As far as I am concerned, Manchester United does not belong to one person, not an ego trip, but to everyone with a heart for the club.”
When asked whether fans would have a say in transfer policy, he continued: “That’s probably not a good plan, no. We still have to think it through carefully. It’s more about the bigger picture, the course-determining issues that I want to involve them in. Do we focus on talents or do we get big stars? That kind of thing.”
READ MORE: Thomas Zilliacus beats Sheikh Jassim: Man Utd fans want 50/50 ownership over limitless cash