Manchester United’s takeover situation continues to gather pace, following two confirmed offers for the club on Friday night.
Sheikh Jassim bin Al Thani of Qatar publicly announced his intention to purchase the club, with Ineos, owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, also revealing their bid for the 20-time English champions. But it’s a process which is not expected to be concluded soon, with several reports providing an increasingly uncertain backdrop to the all-consuming takeover talk.
The Athletic claims the bid from Sheikh Jassim is in the region of £4.5bn, but he can go higher if needed. He is planning to buy out the Glazers completely and any minority shareholders, while he intends to modernise the training ground and stadium, and provide funds for the women’s team.
While the Qatar-based offer and that of Ratcliffe are the only confirmed bids, the Wall Street Journal claims that ‘several more offers poured in for both partial stakes in the club and to acquire the team outright’.
Saudi Arabia were reportedly interested in United, with Sky Sports indicating it is still possible that an offer could have been submitted from a consortium in the Middle Eastern state, and the outlet add that bidders don’t have to publicly declare their position. "There was initial interest from Saudi Arabia, but we’ve not received any information that they’ve made a bit... yet,” claimed Sky Sports.
Yet despite the growing expectation that the Glazers’ unpopular tenure at Old Trafford could be drawing to an end, there is still a possibility that the current owners remain in place.
As per BBC Sport, Sheikh Jassim and Ineos have been asked to avoid making ‘vitriolic public statements including terms such as returning United to its "glory years", which they viewed as implied criticism of the Glazers’. This has been seen by some as an indication the current custodians have not yet decided to cede control of the Red Devils, as outbound owners are unlikely to be concerned about their reputation.
BBC also claims the Raine Group, who are handling a potential acquisition on the club’s behalf, believe the process could be wrapped up by the end of March while there is ‘no question’ the situation should be resolved by the season’s climax.