It’s been 176 days since the Glazer family announced they were considering selling Manchester United.
The process has been extended, as would be expected for a potential £6billion deal, a vocal bidder withdrew after the Glazers’ decision to advance to a third round.
“The auction is turning into a farce,” said Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus.
Zilliacus’ involvement was not taken seriously by those involved in the process, but his words resonated.
A deadline of April 28 has been set for these third bids. Since then, discussions have continued. Now a the fourth bid – closer to £5billion – was made by one of the leading contenders and many are beginning to wonder, what is going on?
Why has this still not been resolved?
The obvious reason is that either no bidder has reached the price the Glazer family is looking for, or the family thinks they can get the most out of those who bid.
The Glazers bought the club for £790m in 2005 and have established a current valuation of between £5bn and £6bn.
It’s unclear if the Glazers are unified in their analysis of the situation. Co-chairmen and brothers Joel and Avram have always been more personally invested in the club, but Bryan, Kevin, Edward and Darcie are also directors.
Who is still in the running?
The only publicly known bidders are Qatari billionaire Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group.
Sheikh Jassim wants to buy 100% of United, while Ineos wants the Glazer family’s 69% stake and is happy to leave the rest of the club on the New York Stock Exchange.
Elliott Investment Group has revised its involvement from a simple financing offer to being prepared to buy a minority stake. The American company did not specify the size of a “minority” that it is ready to buy.
What has been proposed so far?
Ratcliffe met all three submission deadlines, as did Sheikh Jassim. Initially, Ineos wanted ownership of Glazer, which is around 69%. That has changed and they are now willing to reduce that as long as they are in control, so 50.01% minimum. This would allow co-chairmen Avram and Joel Glazer to remain investors in the club.
Sheikh Jassim wants 100% control and his fourth offer is closer to £5billion. There have been other groups, including Elliott Investments and Sixth Street, which have offered to take a minority stake in return for funds which could be used to upgrade Old Trafford and Carrington training ground.
Ineos’ offer is believed to still value the club higher, but obviously they wouldn’t buy everything. The view has always been that the Glazer family would not settle for less than £5billion, double what Todd Boehly and his consortium spent to buy Chelsea 12 months ago, although they have also pledged £1.75million to improve Stamford Bridge.
Will the deal be done before the start of next season?
It should be – however, unlike the sale of Chelsea last year – there is no deadline.
The initial sentiment was that a sale would be completed by the end of March. Then, even taking into account the delays, it was expected that a deal would be done by the end of the season.
The March deadline has long passed and there are less than a fortnight left until the end of the Premier League season. The transfer window then opens on June 10.
What does this mean for manager Erik ten Hag?
At the very least, it creates uncertainty.
Although there are Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules which must be adhered to – and in their recent second quarter accounts United’s overall debt stood at almost £1billion – Erik ten Hag knows he needs to improve his squad this summer and the players he wants won’t come cheap.
United are desperate for a striker and for the quality required, the fee would be huge.
They are also on the hunt for a central midfielder and they also have a premium price – Borussia Dortmund and England midfielder Jude Bellingham, for example, is reportedly demanding a transfer fee in excess of £100m sterling.
A much cheaper alternative would be Marcel Sabitzer, who joined United on loan from Bayern Munich in January and whose season ended with injury.
Ten Hag needs to know if he could, for example, sign a striker like England skipper Harry Kane or Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, plus an elite midfielder, or if he should aim lower.
“What I want is clear, but it’s not for me to decide,” he said earlier this month.
When asked what his transfer budget would be, Ten Hag replied: “I don’t know.”
What’s the feeling among Man Utd fan groups?
There is no consensus on who should buy the club. Some want Sheikh Jassim, others want Ineos, others would prefer the club to manage the revenue it generates itself. What they seem to be united in is a demand for the Glazers to leave.
Former United captain Gary Neville said on social media this week that the Glazers are “making it up as they go” and need to be out “by the end of May”. Many fans would even say that would be too long.
United were unable to stage the Euro 2028 fixtures as they could not guarantee Old Trafford would be ready. That in itself is due to the dithering around the stadium upgrade, which is likely to cost £1billion.
The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) has called for the sale process to be “concluded without further delay”.
“With Erik ten Hag having made such great progress in his first season, and with the vital summer transfer window just weeks away, news of these delays and prolonged uncertainty is very concerning,” MUST said in a statement. communicated.
“We are also unable to move forward on major capital projects – notably the redevelopment of the stadium as we remain in limbo.
“We urgently need new investment, which undoubtedly requires new owners.”
What is the next step in the process?
The ball remains in the Glazers’ court and Sheikh Jassim’s camp is debating whether the family even wants to sell.
Until his latest offer, the Ineos side were confident, sensing his offer to reduce what he wants to buy from the entire 69% of the club held by the Glazers to just over 50% to allow the co-chairs Joel and Avram Glazer to stay. can turn things around.
But there are no certainties.
And if Sheikh Jassim in particular fails to strike a deal, could another Qatari bid to buy another Premier League club succeed? It would make it even harder for United to compete for trophies – and cost the Glazers even more in the long run.
The wait for answers continues.