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Former YuuZoo chairman Zilliacus mulls bid for Manchester United

The Edge Singapore
The Edge Singapore • 3 min read
Former YuuZoo chairman Zilliacus mulls bid for Manchester United
Zilliacus (seen here in a 2015 file photo) proposes to finance half the cost and ask the fans to pay the other half / Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua
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Thomas Zilliacus, better known in Singapore as the former chairman of YuuZoo Corp, has thrown in his hat to buy Manchester United.

In an interview with UK paper The Mirror, Zillacus outlined a “fan ownership” model, which he says will be “appealing” to the supporters of one of the world’s most famous soccer club.

”Any sport club ultimately should belong to its fans. The current development, where billionaire sheiks and oligarchs take over clubs and control them as their personal playgrounds is not a healthy trend,” he says.

NYSE-listed Manchester United has a market value of just below US$4 billion.

In his proposed bid, Zilliacus plans to pay half the amount needed to buy over the club. He will then ask fans to chip in the other half.

Man U, as the Old Trafford-based club is popularly known, is one of the most popular sports brands in the world and reportedly has a fan base of more than 600 million worldwide.

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According to Zillacus, if every fan chips in, they would be paying less than US$6 each. “My bid is built on equality with the fans,” he says.

Zilliacus proposes to finance half the cost and ask the fans to pay the other half, which works out to less than US$3 each if each of them participates.

“Each fan who joins will have access to an app which the fan, from anywhere in the world, can use to participate and cast his vote when deciding on footballing matters relating to the club. No decisions will be taken that are not supported by a majority of the fan base,” he tells The Mirror.

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According to The Mirror, Zilliacus, has been chairman of Finland’s 32-times football champions HJK. He is also owner of Finland’s 6-times ice hockey champions Jokerit.

The Glazers family, current owners of Man U, are reportedly asking for £6 billion.

According to The Mirror, interests have been indicated by Jim Ratcliffe, founder of chemicals group INEOS, and UK’s richest man. Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim is keen as well.

Zilliacus, who used to head corporate communications for Nokia, founded YuuZoo Corp and listed the company on the SGX back in 2014.

He quit in 2018 following probes by the Commercial Affairs Department, “caused by a complaint from an unknown party”.

“While he is convinced nobody in the Company has done anything wrong, he has informed the Board he believes the honourable thing to do is to step aside while the investigation is ongoing,” said YuuZoo in its April 27 announcement.

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