The Glazers have reportedly identified their preferred bidder for Manchester United more than six months after the club was first put up for sale.
According to The sunSir Jim Ratcliffe will be identified by the Glazers as their preferred bidder as the process takes a major step forward and the controversial American family ownership of the club appears to have ended some 18 years after the initial takeover.
After announcing during the World Cup that they were looking for new revenue streams, be it an investment in the club or an outright sale, there has been much speculation surrounding United and its potential next owners.
For months it seemed like a battle between two candidates: the British billionaire Ratcliffe and the Qatari former banker Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani.
The report says Ratcliffe’s £5bn bid is the preferred option, with the Glazers themselves remaining at the club as minority shareholders.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe would have been identified as the Glazers’ preferred bidder after five months
The Glazer family announced they are considering selling United in November 2022 after 18 years of highly controversial ownership
There are said to have been complications during the bidding process, which lasted all year due to Joel and Avram Glazer’s desire to stay at the club.
The Raine Group, the New York-based investment bank that has overseen the sale, is said to be close to confirming that the process will continue with Ratcliffe’s bid leading the way.
While Sheikh Jassim’s £5bn bid for 100 per cent control of the club was the highest bid received after three rounds of bidding, Ratcliffe’s bid for an initial 50 per cent stake valued the club closer to the club’s reported £6bn valuation. American family.
Should Ratcliffe’s offer be the one the Glazers go with, it could open the door for other investors to join the process.
The Ineos billionaire is one of two sides, alongside Qatari sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, believed to be leading the bidding war
Throughout the bidding process, there has been constant muttering of US banks and financial institutions such as Carlyle purchasing a minority stake in the club.
Such an investment was considered in the context of the Glazers retaining overall control but bringing in new revenue to improve Old Trafford and the club’s Carrington base.
The reports suggesting that Ratcliffe’s bid is the one the Glazers will go for is likely to disappoint and perhaps anger certain parts of the support.
This sale process was celebrated at the turn of the year as a significant moment in the club’s history, when the Glazers would leave Manchester for the last time, never to return.
Ratcliffe’s offer, however, would have been structured in such a way that they would remain at the club – albeit in a much smaller and less powerful capacity than they currently enjoy.
There were protests ahead of the club’s most recent home game against Aston Villa, with a significant proportion of supporters saying the sale should mark a clear break from the previous 18 years.
Nevertheless, a recent report from Sky News suggested that their presence at the club would end in 2026 due to a clause included in Ratcliffe’s bid.
They reported that Ratcliffe’s takeover offer includes “put-and-call options that would become exercisable in 2026.”
A source reportedly told Sky News that the put-and-call arrangements would force the Glazers to sell their remaining shares to him or force him to acquire them.
The clause could trigger as little as three years into the deal and would ultimately push the Glazer family out of the picture.
However, Sky News reports that Ratcliffe’s takeover offer includes “put and call options that would become exercisable in 2026.”
Clause in Ratcliffe’s bid will satisfy Manchester United’s fan base as they have campaigned to get the ‘Glazer’s out’ and for a ‘complete sale’ of the club
In February, Ratcliffe said: ‘We would see our role as the long-term stewards of Manchester United on behalf of the fans and the wider community.
We are ambitious and very competitive and would like to invest in Manchester United to make them the number one club in the world again. We also recognize that football governance in this country is at a crossroads.
“We want to help lead this next chapter, deepening the culture of English football by making the club a beacon for a modern, progressive, fan-focused approach to ownership.
“We want a Manchester United that is anchored in its proud history and roots in the North West of England, brings the Manchester back into Manchester United and is clearly focused on winning the Champions League.”