Talks over the sale of Manchester United are continuing, sources connected with all parties have told 90min.
Reports have claimed that United’s current owners, the Glazer family, have backed away from a proposed sale of the club as they feel they are not getting the appropriate value, but it is understood lines of communication remain open between everyone involved.
90min has been told that United and Raine Group, the investment bank overseeing the sale of the club, had planned on everything being finalised by November, which would mark a year from when the Glazers first confirmed they were considering selling the club.
The main protagonists in the battle to win control for Old Trafford are two bidding groups, the Nine Two Foundation headed by Qatari-based Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, and INEOS, owned by British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
Sheikh Jassim founded his foundation, named after United’s famous Class of 92 featuring the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville, with the sole purpose of making a bid for United which was eventually increased to £6bn.
The bidding for United went through five rounds of bidding and the final offer from Sheikh Jassim is understood to be the largest on the table. The Qatari proposal is for complete control of the club and would see the Glazers leave United altogether.
However, the main rival bid for United comes from Ratcliffe. His bid is fronted by his INEOS group and is proposing buying a majority share which would then allow members of the Glazer family, namely current co-chairmen Joel and Avram, to remain at Old Trafford.
An official asking price has not formally been set by the Glazers but the figure of around £6bn was expected by the bidding groups, but North American sources with knowledge of the situation have always suggested to 90min that this will not be enough to secure a sale.
The Glazers, who own NFL franchise the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have just witnessed the world’s biggest sale of a sports club as the Washington Commanders were sold for £4.8bn in July.
The fact the Commanders reached a figure of near £5bn is believed to have played a part in convincing the Glazers that they should be getting much more than £6bn for United, who are widely regarded as the biggest footballing brand in world football, and they see United more comparable with the Dallas Cowboys, who were valued at $9bn (£7.7bn) by Forbes magazine – enough to make them the highest-valued NFL franchise.
90min understands such a value is closer to the fee the Glazers hope to receive for United who, interestingly, were valued at $6bn (£4.8bn) by Forbes.
It now remains to be seen how the takeover process progresses in the coming weeks, and whether it does indeed go ahead as planned.
What we know
- Qatar’s Nine Two Foundation want control at Old Trafford
- Main rival to Sheikh Jassim is Sir Jim Ratcliffe
- Glazers yet to confirm asking price