The Glazer family will decide whether to sell Manchester United in the coming days in what could be a watershed moment for Britain’s biggest club after the final takeover bids were made on Friday evening.
Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani is hoping his third and “final” offer – believed to be worth around £5bn – will be enough to get the Glazers to cash in and get through the fight for control of the Ineos founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe at Old Trafford.
Sources close to both camps confirmed on Friday evening that their bids had been submitted before the 10pm deadline.
The coming days, as the Glazers weigh their options, could influence the direction of the club’s journey for years to come with a number of proposals on the table, including minority stake offers.
It’s been six months since the Glazers announced a “strategic review” of the club, which included the possibility of a sale, and sources close to Sheikh Jassim believe the time has come for the Americans to make a concrete decision about who they wish to proceed with. . after a long bidding process.
Many fans, keen to see the Glazers’ back, have called for a full sale and are eager to avoid a situation where reviled Americans remain at the club in some capacity.
Sheikh Jassim, son of former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassam bin Jaber Al Thani, one of the richest men in the Gulf nation, remains the favorite to get the club and is the only bidder offering a takeover of the 100% and a debt-free purchase.
In addition to offering to take over the Glazers and other investors, the Qatar Islamic Bank chairman has also promised to provide significant investment to redevelop Old Trafford or build a new stadium and renovate the Carrington training ground and views his offer as ” the best for the club, the fans and the community.”
If successful, financial sources have suggested the Qataris would need at least a month to complete the acquisition of the Glazers’ 69% stake, but six weeks or more to acquire the 31% stake held by an assortment of other investors. .
Although a bid of around £5bn or more would be a world record fee for a sports franchise, the Glazers were seeking up to £6bn.
Under the Glazers, who bought the club in 2005 amid widespread protests, United have suffered a decade of decline since Sir Alex Ferguson retired amid fury over money being sucked out of the club’s coffers to finance a heavily indebted establishment.
Erik ten Tag, the United manager, is also desperate for clarity ahead of a critical summer transfer window, planning for which has been made all the more complicated by uncertainty over who will own the club.
In this week’s surprise news, it emerged that one of Ratcliffe’s seemingly proposed proposals included an option for United co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer to retain a stake in the club in the hope it could boost his chances.
Several US investment firms – Elliott Management, Carlyle Group and Ares Management – are also bidding for the club, but are proposing minority stakes and financing.