Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, have been urged to stop dragging their heels over a sale of the club – or explain why they have not struck a deal yet.
It is almost nine months since the Glazers announced they would entertain offers for the 20-time English champions but the Americans remain in situ, despite receiving record-breaking offers from British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani.
United fans have grown increasingly exasperated by the protracted process and plan to make their feelings known in a protest outside Old Trafford ahead of their first Premier League match of the season, against Wolves on Monday evening.
“As time goes on this feels less like a sale process and more like the Glazer family is holding Manchester United and its fans hostage,” said a spokesperson for the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST).
“The united message of fans is clear – sell the club. And if they do not intend to do so, at least have the courage to say that and explain what the charade of the last nine months has been about.
“On the pitch, there is clear progress at United and the whole fan base is behind Erik [ten Hag, manager] and the team. But off it, the discontent about the ownership and the sale process has not gone away and will only escalate now the new season has arrived.”
Both Ratcliffe, the boss of chemicals giant Ineos, and Sheikh Jassim are believed to have made offers valuing United at more than £5bn. The Glazers, who took over in a £790m takeover in 2005, own 69 per cent of shares in the New York-listed football club.
The offers are short of the £6bn valuation that the Glazers are said to have targeted, but nonetheless would represent a world record sum paid for a sports team. The NFL’s Washington Commanders, which changed hands this summer, set the current benchmark of $6bn (£4.7bn).
There has been no development since the end of last season, when the Glazers’ bankers, the Raine Group, concluded several rounds of bidding. The stalemate has led at least one party to conclude that a sale is now unlikely.
The Glazers fielded various propositions. While Sheikh Jassim wanted to buy the club outright, Ratcliffe was happy for the current owners to retain a minority stake. Other parties offered to buy small shareholdings or partner with other bidders.
United have continued to buy and sell players despite uncertainty over their ownership, buying four new players including £64m Denmark striker Rasmus Hojlund, £55m England midfielder Mason Mount and £43m goalkeeper Andre Onana.