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The board of Manchester United is preparing to make an approach to Malcolm Glazer, the US billionaire and one of the football club's largest shareholders, about the reinstatement of a director that Mr Glazer voted off the board last month.
The decision by the board, led by its chairman Sir Roy Gardner, to seek a dialogue with Mr Glazer represented the latest development in a protracted stand-off involving United, its largest stakeholders, Irish horseracing millionaires JP McManus and John Magnier, and Mr Glazer.
The re-appointment of Andy Anson, commercial director, to the board would fly in the face of the results of a shareholder vote last month in which the voting power behind Mr Glazer's 2 8 per cent stake in United - and the decision by Mr McManus and Mr Magnier to abstain from the vote - secured the dismissal from the board of Mr Anson and two other directors.
A person familiar with the situation said that the club's board had the right to re-appoint Mr Anson in spite of Mr Glazer's vote last month but that the appointment would be up for vote at the group's annual meeting next year.
The appointment could also be the subject of an earlier vote if shareholders called an extraordinary meeting in response to it.
Cubic Expression, the investment vehicle controlled by Mr McManus and Mr Magnier, is understood to have been approached by United and said it would not object to Mr Anson's re-appointment - but it is unclear whether the Irish entrepreneurs would support the move if it came to a vote.
The situation raised new corporate governance questions about whether it is proper for directors - who, in effect, work for the owners of a company - to act out of concert with a large shareholder if they believe the investor is acting against the interests of the group.
Tensions between Mr Glazer and United erupted after the football club ended talks with the American owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers about a potential bid for the company. United broke off talks with Mr Glazer's family because of its contention that the bid was "overly leveraged".
It is unclear whether the company will move ahead with the appointment of Mr Anson, who continues to act as commercial director, if Mr Glazer's position remains unchanged.