Man United supporters urge bidders to support progress, respect LGBT rights

by Reuters
Monday, 20 February 2023 09:25 GMT

Soccer Football - General view of Manchester United's Old Trafford Stadium - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 15, 2023 General view of Manchester United's Old Trafford Stadium REUTERS/Molly Darlington

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Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) said any new owner of Manchester United must commit to continuing the Premier League club's progress on the field and respect the rights of LGBTQ+ fans

Feb 19 (Reuters) - Any new owner of Manchester United must commit to continuing the Premier League club's progress on the field and respect the rights of LGBTQ+ fans, the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) said on Sunday.

The Glazer family, United's American owners, said in November they had begun looking at options for the record 20-time English champions.

United fans have been clamouring for a change of ownership and the Glazers have been criticised as the team have not won a major trophy since 2017.

Under new manager Erik ten Hag, however, they have improved and sit third in the Premier League table. They have also reached the League Cup final, where they will face Newcastle United next Sunday.

United's women's team, founded in 2018, are top of the Women's Super League standings.

"Everyone can see the progress the teams (men's and women's) teams are making...," MUST said in a statement on Twitter.

"It is clear that enormous strides are being taken. Any prospective bidder needs to explicitly commit to continuing this progress and backing plans to restore Manchester United to glory.

"We urge all bidders to open a dialogue with fans groups alongside the bidding process with the club, in order to discuss their proposals including the above issues."

In December, MUST published an open letter laying out 12 demands for prospective owners.

They reiterated their demands on Sunday, before pointing out specific concerns over bids from British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe's company INEOS and Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, a son of Qatar's former prime minister.

INEOS bought French Ligue 1 club Nice in 2019, while French champions Paris St Germain are owned by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI).

European soccer governing body UEFA's rules forbid two clubs with the same owner both taking part in the lucrative European Champions League.

"There are questions about sporting integrity given the exceptionally close links between some bidders and the owners of other European clubs including Paris St Germain and Nice," MUST said.

On Thursday, the Daily Telegraph reported that Saudi Arabia has also submitted a bid. Homosexuality is illegal in both Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

'Rainbow Devils', a Manchester United LGBTQ+ supporters group, this week expressed "deep concern over some of the bids that are being made".

"We also note the importance that any owner respects the rights of all people, particularly women and the LGBTQ+ community," MUST said.

"Concerns have been raised by other fans groups which we fully support."

Sky Sports reported on Sunday that chemicals producer INEOS, which confirmed a bid for "majority ownership" on Saturday, had bid for 69% ownership of United - which is what the Glazer family currently has.

Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond
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