Manchester United bidders have until Friday evening to submit their third and final offer as the potential sale process continues. The Old Trafford giants announced in November that the board was exploring strategic alternatives to enhance the club’s growth, with a full sale option being considered. The club’s owners, the Glazer family, are said to value United at £6bn and the Raine Group, which facilitated the Chelsea sale, has been brought in to oversee the process. February 17 was the flexible deadline for expressions of interest and March 22 the second deadline for those left over. This was eventually extended for a few days and it was understood that Raine asked interested parties for their third and final offer on Friday. Bids for previous rounds had to arrive by 10pm UK time and 5pm US East Coast. Bloomberg reported on the eve of the deadline that the bidders were being asked to clarify the source of their money, the planned financial models and the debts that would be secured against the club.
The third deadline comes as a promising first season on the pitch under Erik ten Hag nears its conclusion, with United due to face Manchester City in the FA Cup Final on June 3 as they look to add to their Carabao Cup triumph. they are also on course for Champions League qualification, but uncertainty about the future provides an unwanted cloud over a club looking to return to the top. Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, chairman of the Qatar Islamic Bank and son of a former prime minister of Qatar, was the first prospective owner to publicly confirm a bid. INEOS owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe quickly followed suit, with both parties traveling to Manchester last month to visit the club and speak to the senior hierarchy. In addition to Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe, Carlyle, Elliott Management, Ares Management and Sixth Street are reported to have submitted minority investment proposals. It was also reported this week that an option on the table could see Ratcliffe take a controlling stake of over 50%, with Avram and Joel Glazer retaining a combined 20%, but Ratcliffe’s reps have not commented on the matter. In the wake of that story, 1958 – a group of United supporters who rose to prominence last year – posted on Twitter: “If you sleep with Glazer. You’re a Glazer. Fans will have their say this Sunday. FULL SALE ONLY .” United fans have made their fury known at the Glazers since their leveraged takeover in 2005 and 1958 has brought fresh protests against them in the last year. Banners against the Glazers were seen at Wembley in last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final penalty shootout win against Brighton and a protest is expected at Sunday’s Premier League home match against Aston Villa. Departing central Manchester at 11.45am, the march will continue towards Old Trafford and will result in an 18-minute boycott of the match. “We boycott the game for 18 minutes,” said 1958. “One minute for every year the Glazers have brought our club down.” The protest is expected to die down outside the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust, which earlier this month called for the potential takeover process to be speeded up. “With Erik ten Hag making such great progress in his first season, and with the vital summer transfer window just weeks away, the news of these delays and the further prolonged uncertainty is a cause for great concern,” it read. in a MUST statement. “Erik needs to know what resources he needs to spend so he can make the purchases the club needs, and all club management resources need to be focused on supporting him in this. This cannot be the case with future ownership. so unclear “We are also unable to move forward on major investment projects, not least the redevelopment of the stadium as we remain in limbo. “We are in desperate need of new investment, which will no doubt require new ownership. MUST, together with United fans worldwide, are calling for this process to be concluded without further delay.”
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