Cast your mind back to the Summer of 1995. Britpop was in full swing, BSE was a very real reason not to eat a burger at football and United had just been relegated to the third division.
Amongst all this came the breaking news that a household name in entertainment had launched a takeover bid at the Abbey. The press flocked up Newmarket Road as rumours circulated to the mystery buyer, with BBC Radio Cambs hosting a phone in speculating on whom it might be, with one name being mentioned that of Aussie actor/singer Jason Donovan.
Could it be true, could Jason be saving his considerable royalties Especially for Us? We should be so lucky. It was quickly revealed the whole thing was a hoax, and no such offer was forthcoming.
The ‘trick the CEN with a buyout rumour‘ game was one that was to repeat itself a decade and a half later when someone convinced the press that dour pundit and former Ireland midfielder Roy Keane was out to buy the U’s, but again it was not to be (although judging by his managerial career we probably dodged a bullet there).
It makes us wonder why Donovan (or anyone for that matter) would want to buy a skint, freshly relegated U’s, but at least we were fortunate enough to own our ground back then. Twenty five years later and we’ve been teased with takeovers since (the aforementioned Keane rumour, the MyFootballClub debacle, Johnny Hon and his millions, plus the annual “Microsoft has an office in Cambridge perhaps Bill Gates should buy us” take) but other than long standing board member Paul Barry no-one has seen fit to put their hands in their pocket and buy out United, which says a lot as to how attractive a prospect we actually are. That being said, when you look at some of the disastrous takeovers of recent years (Wimbledon, Bury, Macclesfield), there’s a real chance we’d be in a much worse place had any of them actually been genuine.