The sale of Manchester United could finally be reaching the final straight with the Glazers having selected Sir Jim Ratcliffe as their preferred bidder, according to reports.
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Ineos founder Ratcliffe has been going head-to-head with Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani over a five-month process that has seen three rounds of bidding to win control of the club.
US bank Raine Group have been overseeing the sale, with third and final bids submitted at the end of April.
Although there have been several other offers regarding minority stakes, the main two bids have come from Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim with a preferred bidder now – finally – emerging.
According to The Sun, the Glazers have chosen the Ratcliffe and Ineos bid as their preferred partner and an official announcement could come ‘within days’.
As has been previously reported, two of the Glazer family – Joel and Avram – do not want to sell their shares and will remain as part of the ownership group at United.
The other four Glazer siblings are cashing in, though that is unlikely to placate United fans who have routinely chanted ‘We want Glazers out!’ at matches and will be disappointed by news that Joel and Avram will be hanging around.
But that is believed to have been a deal-clincher for Ratcliffe’s bid and his offer of majority control was favoured over Sheikh Jassim’s full buyout.
Although the Qatari bid was worth more than Ratcliffe’s, coming in at around £5billion, the Ineos proposal valued the club at closer to £6bn – though they will only be buying 50% of the club now.
There have been suggestions that Ratcliffe will eventually look to buyout the final two Glazer siblings at a later date, and the current proposal allows more funds to be funnelled into making transfers this summer as well as upgrading the stadium and training facilities.
In fact, Avram and Joel could be ousted by 2026 with Sky News having previously revealed that Ratcliffe wanted to include clauses that would see him complete a 100% buyout within three years.
The looming change of leadership is likely to herald a number of changes in senior management positions, with The Sun’s report suggesting chief executive Richard Arnold will be one of the first high-profile board members to be axed.
Although the Glazers may have decided their preferred bidder, completion of the deal could still take several months and potentially hamper United’s ability to complete transfers in the summer window.
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