LONDON: Manchester United fans have stepped up their campaign against John Magnier by taking their battle all the way to the European Parliament.
Thousands of angry United supporters have vowed to write to Euro MPs to complain at the lucrative tax breaks enjoyed by racing tycoon Magnier and his business partner JP McManus who are the biggest United shareholders.
The Coolmore Stud pair make millions each year through the Irish Government’s tax exemptions for breeders and United fans have vowed to bring pressure to force a change in the law.
It is the latest proof of how far the fans are prepared to go to support manager Alex Ferguson in his legal battle with Magnier over the stud rights to champion racehorse Rock Of Gibraltar.
United fans are fed up with what they see as a dirty tricks campaign designed to undermine Ferguson and have decided to try to turn the tables on Magnier and McManus.
“You can’t expect to shine a spotlight on something as big, famous and loved as Manchester United without that spotlight inevitably being shined upon you,” Shareholders United spokesman Oliver Houston told The Daily Mirror.
Magnier and McManus spent Wednesday scrutinising United’s first response to their 99 questions into the club’s financial dealings. The seven-page reply, with six attachments, is understood to not go far enough for Coolmore’s satisfaction.
As a result, Magnier and McManus are set to step up their demands for greater transparency in United’s financial dealings and will push for an independent audit of the club’s recent transfers.
In a separate development, Ferguson and his lawyers dismissed the threat of a counter legal action from Magnier and McManus.
United’s major shareholders are said to have demanded transcripts of interviews conducted by Ferguson as they explore the possibility of a claim for defamation.
Magnier and McManus claim Ferguson may have unjustly been referring to them when he said people had stolen his son Jason’s mail, rummaged through his bins and hidden in his garden.
But sources close to Ferguson said they were “hardly quaking in their boots” at the prospect of a libel writ.
United’s latest signing Louis Saha waded into the turmoil by insisting his agent Branko Stoic deserved every penny of his commission from the £12.85mil deal which took him from Fulham.
Stoic was one of the agents who took a slice of £750,000 from the deal but Saha said: “From my point of view my agent did everything right to make the deal happen for me, so I’m happy.” – AFP