Manchester United’s suitors fear that the Glazer family will reverse their decision to sell the club unless they receive a bid of £6.5bn.
The latest twists in the sale process have been interpreted in some quarters as evidence that United’s owners are not serious about relinquishing control at Old Trafford.
Bidders were due to lodge their second offers on Wednesday evening, only to learn at the 11th hour that the Glazers’ bankers, the Raine Group, had extended the deadline.
A late U-turn from the Glazers would risk infuriating United supporters, some of whom have long campaigned for the Americans to sell up.
“It’s a bit chaotic because the sellers still do not know what they want to do,” said a person familiar with the situation.
“They will only sell if they get £6bn-£6.5bn, which is crazy money. At the moment I don’t think anyone’s going anywhere near that. I think the leading scenario now is possibly that they stay.”
Despite suggestions that there are up to eight bidders for United, there still appear to be only two parties who wish to buy a majority stake.
British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is keen to purchase the Glazers’ 69 per cent holding, while Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani wants to own 100 per cent.
Three or four other groups, including Elliott Investment Management, are understood to be ready to offer finance or partner with other bidders.
If the Glazers choose not to sell, they could opt to take financing from one of those groups and use it to pay for a much-needed upgrade of Old Trafford.
Ratcliffe, who owns chemical company Ineos and whose sport investments include French club Nice, and Sheikh Jassim, the chair of Qatar Islamic Bank, are both expected to lodge their second offers before the weekend.
The Glazers’ asking price would make United by far the most expensive sports team in history, eclipsing the $4.65bn (£3.86bn) sale of NFL franchise Denver Broncos last summer.