A 37-year-old guy walked onto the Old Trafford pitch before the first game of the new league season on August 19, 1989. The opposition was Arsenal, and the stadium was sold out; the official attendance was 47,245 – almost 10,000 more than the previous season’s average.
Michael Knighton, dressed in full Manchester United training gear, juggled the ball deftly before hitting it into an empty net. He stood in front of the Stretford End with his arms outstretched, taking it all in. He would have been completely unknown just a few weeks ago.
However, Knighton had announced a £10 million acquisition transaction the day before, which United described as “rocking football.” He was the flashy new owner in the making, making an early mark on the club that appeared to be his soon. Not everyone was on his side.
While fans ate it up, planning and conspiring were already in full swing in the halls of power. Knighton’s takeover was doomed from the start, and his choice to walk out onto the pitch seemed to be the final straw.
What happened next at Old Trafford is a well-known story: the club’s valuation has risen to almost £3 billion today as a result of its success on and off the field amid a period of unprecedented growth in the football business.
Source: BBC Sport