Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani has made a new bid to buy Manchester United, according to British media.
The chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank has made a second-round bid overnight, the Press Association and the BBC reported.
The offer would be worth around £5 billion ($6.12 billion), Sky Sports News reported
Jassim, a son of the former Prime Minister of Qatar, launched the bid in February. A spokesman for the sheikh said at the time that the offer was completely debt-free and made through Jassim’s Nine Two Foundation.
British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe submitted a revised bid on Thursday as Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus entered the race to own the Old Trafford club.
Bidders were initially told they had until 9pm GMT on Wednesday to submit new bids, but that deadline was reportedly extended.
One or more of the initial bids would be in the region of £4.5 billion ($5.5 billion).
Such an award would make Manchester United, who have not won a Premier League for a decade, the most expensive sports club in history, although it would fall short of the £6bn ($7.3bn) valuation reportedly by the United States. current club is placed on United. American owners, the Glazer family.
Jassim and Ratcliffe, founders of chemical giant INEOS, remain front runners to buy United if the Glazers relinquish control of the club.
Zilliacus entered the race on Thursday with a bid he said would give fans the chance to own 50 percent of the club.
“My offer is based on equality with the fans,” Zilliacus, founder and chairman of investment firm Mobile FutureWorks, said in a statement.
The Glazers have angered many United supporters by burdening the club with huge debts since they took over in 2005. They seemed poised to cash in on a huge profit when they invited outside investment in November.
However, they could still eschew the option of selling a majority stake in the club as other parties are believed to be interested in minority stakes.
The Times reported that US hedge fund Elliott Investment Management, which sold AC Milan for $1.3 billion last year, has made a bid for a minority stake.
A first round of bidding took place last month and there are reportedly as many as eight potential investors in the club.
Doesn’t pay ‘stupid prices’
Jassim offers 100 percent control, aiming to return the club to its “former glory”.
A source familiar with Jassim’s offer had previously told Agence France-Presse news agency that he remains convinced his offer is “the best for the club, the fans and the local community”.
Ratcliffe, a United fan from his childhood, wants to buy the combined 69 percent share of Glazer.
The 70-year-old told The Wall Street Journal this week that he was not interested in paying “stupid prices” for one of football’s most famous clubs.
Ratcliffe, who already owns French club Nice, said his interest in United would be “purely in winning things”, calling the club a “community asset”.
Last week he visited Old Trafford with representatives from INEOS, a day after a delegation from Jassim’s group toured the club’s stadium and training ground.
A purchase of United by Qatar would boost the Gulf state’s sporting profile months after it hosted the 2022 World Cup, but it would also be controversial.
As the son of a former prime minister, Jassim and his bid have raised concerns about the potential growth of state influence in the Premier League.
The fortunes of reigning Premier League champions Manchester City have changed since the takeover of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, in 2008.
In 2021, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund bought a majority stake in Newcastle.
Amnesty International has called on the Premier League to tighten ownership rules to ensure they “are not an opportunity for more sportswashing”.
United’s Premier League rivals Liverpool have also said they would explore the possibility of bringing in investors, while Iranian-American billionaire Jahm Najafi planned to make a $3.75 billion bid for Tottenham Hotspur, sources said in February to Reuters news agency.
United is the fourth richest football club in the world, according to an analysis by Deloitte. They are widely seen as one of the most prized assets in the sport.