Manchester United sale: Sheikh Jassim, Jim Ratcliffe make third bids

It is estimated the price could be around USD 6 billion


After a third round of bidding for Manchester United, Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe are still hoping to take control of the storied football team.

Persons with knowledge of the bids said the latest offers were submitted on Friday. The persons spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to comment publicly.

Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe confirmed their intention to buy United this year after current owners, the Glazer family, announced in November their willingness to listen to offers for the English Premier League club.

While the Glazers could yet decide to remain in control, merchant bank Raine Group has fielded bids from potential buyers and investors as it explores strategic alternatives.

The size of the bids are not known, but it is estimated the price could be around USD 6 billion if a full sale goes through.

Sheikh Jassim's proposal includes a "significant amount of additional capital and infrastructure investment" that would go directly to United, the person with knowledge of the bid said.

Following reports that Ratcliffe, the owner of petrochemicals giant INEOS, would be willing to let the Glazers retain a minority stake, he has maintained from the start that he is seeking majority ownership.

United supporters have long campaigned to drive out the Glazers after the family's late patriarch, Malcolm, bought the club for around USD 1.4 billion in 2005.

Fans were angered by the leveraged nature of the buyout that loaded debt onto the club. Ill feeling also grew as the team's success declined over the past decade.

The Glazers' confirmation that it would consider a sale was celebrated by large sections of United's support, but concerns were raised about the amount of time it has taken to conclude the process.

The Glazers, who also own the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, want the process to be completed in time for the start of the offseason transfer window.

Prospective new owners would be expected to invest heavily in the squad this summer, with manager Erik ten Hag needing a top-class center forward following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo earlier in the season.

A redevelopment or rebuilding of Old Trafford could also cost in excess of USD 1 billion, while investment could also be made into the club's training facilities.

Sheikh Jassim has previously stated his commitment to invest in the stadium, training center and playing squads in a bid to "return the club to its former glories both on and off the pitch."

Ratcliffe was born in Failsworth, Greater Manchester, and was a boyhood fan.

INEOS has spoken of a "fan-centered approach to ownership" and a determination to make United the "No. 1 club in the world once again".

Despite the bids from Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe, the Glazers could yet opt to sell a minority stake or take up other funding options.

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