Manchester United's owners are rushing to raise up to £250million through the issue of shares and could make the move as soon as February.

Ed Woodward United's executive vice-chairman had insisted there were no imminent plans for a share issue but the Glazer family have already cleared the way in the US to issue up to 23million shares.

It is expected the Glazers will keep some of that cash themselves which is likely to infuriate fans but they will also look to pay off a substantial amount of the debt on the club which stands at £389.2m.

Club officials privately admit that paying £70m a year in interest is crippling them in the transfer market while rivals Manchester City Chelsea Real Madrid Barcelona Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain continue to spend heavily.

United are ninth in the Premier League after a shaky start to the season under new boss David Moyes and while they are unlikely to finish the season so low there are concerns they could miss out on next season's Champions League.