Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim emerging as favourite to buy Manchester United ahead of new deadline
Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Qatari Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani are expected to make second offers for Manchester United this week.
The Raine Group, which is running the sale for United’s owners the Glazer family, has set a deadline of Wednesday for revised bids.
Both Ratcliffe and a party acting for Sheikh Jassim visited Old Trafford last week for presentations on the club and its finances.
The two suitors are expected to follow up with new bids before Raine’s deadline.
There is a growing sense that Sheikh Jassim is the favourite to buy United for what seems certain to be a world record sum for a sports team.
The son of the former prime minister of Qatar is keen to buy United outright, and his enthusiasm for acquiring the club is matched by other key powerbrokers in the state.
There are also questions about how high Ineos chairman Ratcliffe is willing to bid, given that his offer, for the Glazers’ majority holding, is thought to be heavily reliant on debt.
The Glazers set an asking price of £6bn when they put the 20-time English champions up for sale in November. The absence of more than two bidders for the club has, however, reduced the prospect of achieving that valuation.
Raine has attempted to create an auction similar to the one they ran for Chelsea last year, which saw Todd Boehly’s consortium agree to pay £2.5bn and pledge to invest a further £1.75bn.
But there is a feeling that Sheikh Jassim is almost bidding against himself and therefore does not need to reach £6bn.
If he was successful United would be the second European giant to become Qatari owned, after Paris Saint-Germain.
Manchester native Ratcliffe, meanwhile, is hoping to add the club to a portfolio that includes French side Nice and the Ineos cycling team.