Man United for sale: Latest news, updates as Glazers consider Ratcliffe 25% bid and Sheikh Jassim withdraws

The future of Manchester United remains on uncertain ground in 2023 after the Glazer family outlined their interest in selling the club — or, at least, bringing in investment.

The US-based investors have endured a controversial relationship with United fans since taking charge at Old Trafford in 2005 and confirmed in November that they were exploring the possibility of a sale.

Despite an initial spark of speculation over what could happen next with the Glazers’ ownership of United, potential buyers were initially slow to register a consistent public interest, aside from in January 2023 when Sir Jim Ratcliffe announced his plans to make a bid.

That changed in early February, when it emerged that investors from Qatar were prepared to lodge a formal bid in the coming days and that the potential buyers were confident they would be successful. Businessman Thomas Zilliacus also claimed still to be in the running prior to the Glazers’ latest deadline for revised bids.

More recent speculation has indicated the owners may in fact seek to retain control of the club and wait for its value to increase.

That put Ratcliffe in the lead as his offer was not for 100 per cent of the club, which was said to appeal to the current owners, but there was a late move from Sheikh Jassim to try to outbid his rivals.

MORE: Who is buying Manchester United?

Latest news, updates on Man United club sale

On October 15, Mail Online reported that Ratcliffe was set to secure a 25% stake in United for $1.57bn. This would include his group taking control of United’s footballing operations and be viewed as the first step in a staged buyout.

That followed widespread reports on October 14 said that Sheikh Jassim had withdrawn from the bidding process.

Transfer news expert Fabrizio Romano claimed that the final bid had been worth almost double the $3.5 billion market valuation of the club, and said the Sheikh had planned an extra $1.5bn of investment. Sky News was among the outlets to announce that they also understood the offer had been withdrawn.

News emerged on June 7 that Sheikh Jassim had launched a fifth and final new bid for full control of United.

The Daily Mail reported that the Qatari bidders sent another revised offer directly to the Glazers and Raine Group, the bankers tasked with overseeing the potential sale. Sheikh Jassim has set a deadline of Friday, June 9 for negotiations, after which the bid will still stand but he will not engage in further talks.

The Glazers had introduced a deadline of April 28 for the two main bidders to launch their third revised offers to buy the club — offers that were considered likely to be final, although they didn’t have to be. Those bidders are Sheikh Jassim, who heads a Qatari group, and Sir Jim Ratcliffe via his company INEOS.

Sheikh Jassim’s intention, according to widespread reports, is to buy 100 percent of the club for a fee of a little over £5 billion ($6.3bn) and inject further funds to develop Old Trafford and improve facilities. The prospect of a complete removal of the Glazers’ ownership, along with the promise of significant extra money being pumped into the club, has made Sheikh Jassim arguably the most popular potential buyer among fans. #QATARIN was trending on Twitter in the UK on April 28.

However, speculation has grown recently that the Glazers are more inclined to sell a minority stake to boost capital but retain overall control of the club. That has opened the door to the likes of Carlyle, an US investment giant that is interested in buying a partial stake.

Similarly, Ratcliffe’s bid via his company INEOS is reported to have changed slightly. Having initially been seeking around a 69 percent stake, Ratcliffe is speculated to have revised his offer so that he would purchase a controlling number of shares in the club while allowing Joel and Avram Glazer, the most hands-on members of United’s owning family, to keep a smaller stake.

That would tally with an earlier report from ESPN’s Mark Ogden, who said Joel and Avram were “increasingly confident” of securing the outside investment that would allow them to stay on at the club and wait for its value to increase in the coming years — perhaps to as much as $12.4bn over the next decade.

Sheikh Jassim, and Ratcliffe launched their second bids for a full takeover in late March. Thomas Zilliacus also said he was still in the running, but it would seem his interest has cooled.

On March 4, the Telegraph reported that Ratcliffe and the Qatari conglomerate had cleared the first hurdle in the race to buy Man United. And on March 16 and 17, the two groups made separate visits to Old Trafford for talks with United CEO Richard Arnold and other brokers.

The club’s latest financial results made for worrying reading for potential buyers. United’s overall debt rose to £535.7m/$662.5m, based on financial figures for the end of 2022, in an increase of £58.6m/$72.4m from the previous year, with club-wide revenues down by 10%.

MORE: Will the Glazers stay at Manchester United? Sheikh Jassim, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Class A and Class B shares

Are the Glazers selling United?

Following the initial rumours in November 2022, United and the Glazers released a statement to address the situation, and they are open to a direct sale.

“The strength of Manchester United rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers,” the statement said.

“As we seek to continue building on the club’s history of success, the board has authorized a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives.

“The board will consider all strategic alternatives. That includes new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the company.”

The key element of this statement was that the Glazers always made it clear that a full sale was not their only interest, and that “all strategic alternatives” were on the table. The American family is now looking more likely to sell a minority stake in the club and retain overall control.

What is Manchester United price?

Following the Glazers’ announcement, there was a fluctuation on United’s stock and company valuation, as the financial markets reacted to the news.

The expectation is that a lower price will be negotiated as part of takeover talks, with reports from the Financial Times estimating the club has an overall worth of around $3.5 billion, despite previous estimates of over $4bn. However, latest reports have indicated the Glazers want a sum north of $6bn to sell the club outright. The preferred bidders are not believed to agree with the owners’ valuation.

According to reports in April, Joel and Avram Glazer believe the club could be worth as much as $12.4bn in the coming decade if they retain control and bring in the external investment they seek.

Who could buy Manchester United?

Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe were the clear frontrunners to buy United but not the only parties credited with interest.

Zilliacus was a relatively late entrant to the takeover drama and sought to win over support on social media by proposing a Bundesliga-style ownership whereby he would buy 100% of United before selling shares back to the fans. He has also spoken publicly of his frustration with the Glazers’ delay tactics.

Elliott Investment Management, the US hedge fund that oversaw the sale of AC Milan in 2018, also launched an 11th-hour proposal prior to the initial deadline. However, Elliott’s offer reportedly looks a little different: rather than an offer to buy the club, it is a financing proposal, either to facilitate another bid or to allow the Glazers to retain control. Carlyle’s interest is similarly aimed at a minority stake.

BBC Sport reported that the third deadline did not apply to such investment vehicles who are only in the running for a minority stake.

When did the Glazers buy Manchester United?

The Glazers’ connection with United stretches back to 2003, following their initial purchase of club shares through a 2.9% stake at Old Trafford.

That was followed up by gradual share increases year by year up until 2005, where they purchased a controlling stake from former owners JP McManus and John Magnier.

How much did the Glazers pay for Manchester United?

Following a rapid buying of shares in the summer of 2005, the Glazers completed a full takeover before the start of the 2005/06 season, with an estimated full purchase price of around £790 million ($1.5bn).

To finance the takeover, the family loaded some of the debt onto the club, putting them in the red for the first time since the 1930s.

It is the club’s debt level, coupled with the Glazers taking millions in dividend payments each year while substantially reducing investment into certain areas of the club — such as the stadium — that has fuelled much of the anger towards their ownership among fans.

Manchester United fans, Old Trafford, Glazer protests

Is Qatar buying Manchester United?

Buoyed by the global interest in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Sheikh Jassim’s group was interested only in a full takeover of United, not a minority stake.

They claimed to boast financial might that would leave almost any other competing parties unable to rival their bid.

On February 17, Sheikh Jassim confirmed he had lodged an official bid. Their plans are understood to include making a significant amount of additional capital and infrastructure investment. Their financial might makes them popular among many fans, although others have expressed concern about the prospect of United being effectively controlled by the state of Qatar.

As the United sale speculation continues to roll on, Sheikh Jassim has opted to increase his takeover offer to closer to £5bn, according to reports from BBC Sport. The improved bid was put forward by negotiators the Raine Group, on May 16, as the Sheikh looks to gain an edge over Ratcliffe to force a solution. A new, fifth offer was made on June 7, with Sheikh Jassim seemingly walking away from the negotiating table three months later.

Is Sir Jim Ratcliffe buying Manchester United?

On January 17, 2023, Ratcliffe’s firm Ineos officially declared an interest in buying United. With the Glazer family looking to sell, Ineos said the company had “formally put ourselves into the process.” 

They then backed their interest up officially on February 8, announcing they had made an offer for a “majority ownership” of the club, although the latest reports suggest that has been scaled back for now.

Ratcliffe, who lodged an unsuccessful £4.25bn offer to buy Chelsea last year, is currently ranked the 27th wealthiest person in the UK on the Sunday Times Rich List.

The 69-year-old was born in Oldham, Greater Manchester, and grew up supporting the club.

Ratcliffe founded chemical company Ineos in 1998 and this has allowed him to build an estimated net worth of £12 billion ($14.4m).

He has previously declared his interest in buying United should the opportunity arise, and his late bid to purchase Chelsea underlined his readiness to pounce in a difficult market. The recent bid and subsequent visit to Old Trafford underlines his commitment to buying United.

Outside football, Ratcliffe also purchased the Team Sky cycling franchise in 2019, which was rebranded to INEOS Grenadiers. The company also has sponsorship deals with Mercedes AMG F1 and the All Blacks.

Mercedes 2022

Premier League 2023/24 TV channels, live streams

MORE: Watch every Premier League match in Canada on Fubo

Region TV Streaming
Australia Optus Sport
Canada

Fubo Canada

Hong Kong Now TV
India Star Sports Disney+, Hotstar,
JioTV
Malaysia Astro SuperSport Astro Go
New Zealand Sky Sport Sky Sport Now,
Sky Go
Singapore StarHub StarHub TV+
UK Sky Sports, BT Sport NOW TV, Sky Go,
Amazon Prime
USA USA Network,
Telemundo, Universo
Fubo, Peacock

UK: Matches are carried across Sky Sports and BT Sport streaming and TV platforms, with select matches on Amazon Prime.

USA: Select matches are televised on USA Network (English) and Telemundo or Universo (Spanish), and all three channels can be streamed on Fubo. The rest of the matches are streamed on NBC platform Peacock for subscribers.

Canada: Every Premier League game this season is live streaming exclusively via Fubo in Canada.

Australia: Fans in Australia can stream every match live and on demand on Optus Sport.

India: Star Sports network has the rights to show Premier League matches in India. As well as an English broadcast on Star Sports Select, select matches will be available via regional feeds on Star Sports 3 (in Bengali, English, Kannada, Malayalam), Star Sports 1 (Bangla) and Star Sports 1 (Tamil).

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