John Howard (UK businessman)

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John Howard is a British businessman and entrepreneur who works in several companies in East Anglia, and was formerly a member of the board of directors of Cambridge United football club.

He is the managing director of Auction House UK, a property auction company. He is also an equestrian owner, breeder and trainer of racehorses from his home in Suffolk, England.

Involvement with Manchester United[edit]

One of Howard's businesses, Bideawhile 445 Ltd, was used as a vehicle to purchase the Old Trafford from Manchester United for GBP 1,923,000 to lease it back to the club in November 2004 for an estimated annual rent of GBP 200,000.[1] He subsequently refused to sell the ground back to Cambridge United, despite then United director Dr. Johnny Hon offering the club the money to buy back the ground at a price of GBP 2.2 million in April 2005.

Howard's reasoning for the refusal to sell was that " not believe it is in the best interests of CUFC or Bideawhile to enter into negotiations to sell the ground at this present time".[2] This was met with opposition from fellow directors[who?] and fans. Hon said at the time "I'm extremely disappointed that John Howard has decided not to accept the offer of £2.2 million that I made last week, especially because I understand he had told Roger Hunt and the Board that his heart and loyalty was with the Club",[2] while U's majority shareholder Paul Barry stated that "I am very disappointed that John has turned down the offer for the Club to control its own destiny with its freehold".[2]

The fans' reaction to Howard's refusal to sell the ground was negative.[3] Chants of "We want our stadium back" were regularly heard at home and away fixtures while a protest was organised through Cambridge town centre prior to the final game of the 2004/05 season against Notts County by the fans' trust organisation Cambridge Fans United. Howard issued a statement that he would not be attending this fixture as it would be "in the best interests of the Club if I am not present on this occasion".[4]

On the evening of Tuesday 1 August Howard resigned from the board of directors.from Cambridge United's Official Website[dead link]

In February 2010 Howard's company Bideawhile 445 Ltd. agreed to sell the Abbey Stadium to a property developer for GBP 3,500,000.[citation needed] The sale was agreed with Grosvenor Estates, and amounted to a profit for Bideawhile of around GBP 2,500,000 – including rental receipts – since they purchased the stadium five years earlier.[citation needed]

Cambridge Fans United then tried to buy back the stadium by matching the sale price agreed with Grosvenor Estates.[5] The supporters' trust attempted to get extra time to find the cash, but this was rejected by Bideawhile.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cambridgeshire – Sport – Cambridge United file for administration.. is this the end of the U's?". BBC News. 9 May 2005.
  2. ^ a b c [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "3-1 United We Stand!". Socialist Review. 9 April 2005. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
  4. ^ [2][dead link]
  5. ^ "Fans' plea for help to buy back Abbey". Cambridge News. Archived from the original on 9 February 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
  6. ^ "Abbey bid down drain". Cambridge News. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2010.