Allen & Overy (A&O) has scored a high-profile instruction from Malcolm Glazer, the Florida tycoon who is trying to take control of Manchester United FC (MUFC).
However, the firm looks set to run the gauntlet of MUFC’s fans after accepting the instruction.
Glazer’s proposed bid has provoked fierce opposition from fans, who last week poured paint over the car belonging to Maurice Watkins, a partner at James Chapman & Co and an MUFC board member, who previously sold his shares to Glazer.
Fans also invaded the pitch at a reserve game last weekend and attempted to set fire to a US flag.
JPMorgan is acting as financial adviser to Glazer, who started buying MUFC shares last year and now holds 19 per cent.
A&O declined to comment on how the firm got the Glazer mandate, but it is thought that the instruction came directly from Glazer rather than through JPMorgan.
MUFC’s longstanding corporate adviser Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is advising the club on the implications of Glazer’s interest and on any other bid which might arise.
It is essential for Glazer to win the support of Irish shareholders John Magnier and JP McManus, whose Cubic Expression vehicle owns around 29 per cent of the shares. Clifford Chance is understood to be advising Cubic.
Meanwhile, Shareholders United, the group led by Crowell & Moring partner Nick Towle, is seeking lawyers to advise it pro bono. During the 1998-99 bid by BSkyB for the club, Lovells advised the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association for free.