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The Star Online: Sports

American owners say Manchester United not for sale

Posted: 25 Feb 2011 05:28 AM PST

LONDON (AP) - Manchester United's American owners denied suggestions of an imminent sale by insisting Friday that they haven't held takeover talks and are committed to the 18-time English champions for the "long term."

The statement from the Glazers, which accompanied United's quarterly update on its financial results, comes amid continuing media reports that the family has been in negotiations with the Qatari royal family.

"The board notes recent press speculation regarding a possible bid for Manchester United," the statement said. "The owners remain fully committed to their long-term ownership of the club.

"No discussions have taken place, Manchester United is not for sale and the owners will not entertain any offers." Qatar Holdings has also denied that it has bid for United, which Forbes magazine has estimated to be worth $1.8 billion - making it the most valuable football team in the world.

Friday's statement is the second time in the past year that the Glazers have used their quarterly financial update to refute persistent claims they are trying to sell the club they bought in a leveraged buyout in 2005.

While an anti-Glazer protest campaign adopted by fans last season has lost its initial impetus, supporters remain furious at the high level of debt they claim is hampering the club's ability to compete in the transfer market.

While United is top of the Premier League and in the last 16 of the Champions League, the team's performances have been inconsistent and several key players who are nearing the end of their careers have yet to be replaced.

The Red Devils gave Wayne Rooney a more lucrative contract in October when he threatened to leave, but they didn't make any significant additions to the squad in the January transfer window as Chelsea spent around 70 million pounds ($112 million) on signing Fernando Torres and David Luiz.

It is 13 months since the Glazers replaced long-term financing and reduced debts to hedge funds through a seven-year bond issue that raised 504 million pounds.

United revealed on Friday that 24 million pounds of those bonds have been bought back as the club's cash reserves dropped to 134.5 million pounds on Dec. 31 from 151.7 million pounds in September. The club can put the bonds back on the market.

The quarterly financial results to Dec. 31 for United's parent company, Red Football, also showed that the club's gross debt dropped to 489.4 million pounds from 509.4 million pounds on Sept. 30.

But the Glazers have still not revealed how they repaid high-interest loans in November reportedly worth 249 million pounds or whether any new debt was incurred.

The club's growth area continues to be the London-based commercial operation. New global sponsorship deals ensured that in the last six months of 2010 the club generated 50.4 million pounds from commercial revenue - an increase of 30 percent compared with the same period in 2009.

This surge enabled United's overall turnover to grow to 156.5 million pounds from 144.7 million in the same six-month period in 2009.

But earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were only up 3 percent year-on-year to 60.6 million pounds in the six months to Dec. 31.

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De Villiers stars as South Africa crush West Indies in style

Posted: 24 Feb 2011 05:39 PM PST

NEW DELHI: Debutant leg-spinner Imran Tahir snared four wickets and AB de Villiers struck 107 not out as South Africa coasted to a seven-wicket win over the West Indies in the World Cup yesterday.

Tahir (4-41) and off-spinner Johan Botha (2-48) shared six wickets to help South Africa bowl out the West Indies for 222 off 47.3 overs before de Villiers slammed his 10th one-day century to seal the fate of their rivals.

JP Duminy (42 not out) hit the winning run as South Africa reached the target with 43 balls to spare in their opening day-night Group B clash at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.

De Villers put on 119 runs for the third wicket with captain Graeme Smith (45) after South Africa had been reduced to 20-2 following the dismissal of Hashim Amla (14) and Jacques Kallis (four) in the space of five runs.

Amla was caught by wicketkeeper Devon Thomas off paceman Kemar Roach and Kallis offered a catch in the slips after misjudging a delivery from left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn.

De Villiers remained calm despite the twin setback, racing to his half-century with a six off part-time spinner Chris Gayle and carting Benn for another that sailed over long-off.

Tahir and Botha earlier justified the decision of Smith to field three specialist spinners on a ground which was hosting its first international in a year after being banned for a dangerous playing surface.

Darren Bravo led the West Indies fightback with an 82-ball 73 while his older half-brother Dwayne chipped in with a 37-ball 40 with three sixes and a four after the Caribbean side were put in to bat.

Bravo also shared 111 runs for the second wicket with opener Devon Smith after Gayle was dismissed by Botha off the third ball of the innings.

Botha (2-48) struck again in the 24th over, just when Bravo and Devon Smith were threatening to put up a huge partnership.

Tahir, 31, picked up his first wicket in one-day internationals in his third over when he caught Devon Smith (36) off his own bowling and celebrated it by kissing the South African badge on his shirt.

The Pakistan-born bowler picked up another wicket in his next over when he had the veteran Ramnaresh Sarwan (two) trapped lbw.

Sarwan asked for a review of the decision but replays showed the ball would have hit the top of the middle stump.

Tahir, who was warned twice for straying on the pitch, was unlucky not to collect a third wicket just three balls later, grassing a return catch off Dwayne Bravo despite a spirited attempt.

He was not to be denied for long though, removing Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Devon Thomas with his guile and precision before Dale Steyn (3-24) sent back Pollard, Sammy and Benn in a quick three-wicket burst.

West Indies' misery was compounded by a freak injury to Dwayne Bravo who fell in his follow-through, hurting his left knee. He bowled just 2.1 overs and did not take further part in the match. — AFP

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