Ross Stapleton on how Rene Rivkin won over Manchester United and then went to war:

In late 1998 I received a phone call from London while marketing and business development director for leading Australian sports agent Ricky Nixon’s Flying Start, where the caller, a fellow Aussie through a mutual business associate, wanted to discuss an extraordinary business opportunity.

He had secured an agreement to set up an Australian franchise to exploit all Manchester United marketing properties and was keen to discuss Flying Start becoming an investment partner in the new venture. There was also one other local front runner for such involvement I was to learn – Rene Rivkin.

As it turned out in the next couple of months, Manchester United was also being heavily courted by other local interests to tour the world’s biggest club with two games to be played in Sydney and Melbourne in July 1999.

Man U eventually cut a deal with Rivkin but both David Beckham and manager Sir Alex Ferguson ended up in huge rows with him over their Australian participation in the tour – with Rivkin threatening to pay only half the tour fee if they didn’t show. The tour ended up being one of extraordinary acrimony both on and off the pitch and one that left a bitter taste in the mouth of United, although it had created most of the problems for itself in treating Rivkin as perhaps a soft touch originally.

The full story is on the site here.

Peter Fray

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