Man Utd bidders: How things stand for potential owners

Much like the most expensive transfers each summer, the saga of Manchester United’s sale is set to trundle along for several more months to come.

The Glazers seem to be intent on hurrying the process by declaring public deadlines for each stage of the sale – although, the subsequent extension of these time constrictions somewhat undermines the practice.

Nevertheless, now that the interested parties have been granted access to United’s accounts – and swiftly told to improve their opening offers – here’s where each public bid for the club stands at this point in time.

After announcing his interest as one of two public bidders before the first ‘soft’ deadline, a spokesperson for Sir Jim Ratcliffe confirmed that the Manchester-born billionaire had “submitted a revised bid” on Thursday, 23 March – one day after the initial end date for improved offers set forth by the Glazers.

The Athletic have reported that the initial bid tabled by Ratcliffe’s company INEOS was in the region of £5bn. For comparison, the investment vehicle fronted by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital acquired Chelsea for £2.5bn in the summer of 2022 – although, the mitigating circumstances surrounding the government sanctioning of Roman Abramovich have to be taken into consideration.

Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani – the son of his country’s former prime minister but in no way linked to the controversial Middle Eastern state – is thought to have put forward a bid of the same magnitude as Ratcliffe’s offer before the initial deadline.

However, Sheikh Jassim has reportedly bettered Ratcliffe’s improved bid with a sum in the region of £6bn according to Sportico in the second round of offers. No official statement has yet been provided that Sheikh Jassim’s Nine Two Foundation have upped their proposal but his representatives did visit Old Trafford last week to enter a dialogue with the Glazers.

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Elliott Investment Management revealed that they have delivered a proposal to the Glazers after a tour of the club ahead of Manchester United’s Europa League clash with Real Betis. The US hedge fund did stress that they have only bid for a “small amount of common equity”.

The Guardian have reported that Elliott Investment – which previously owned Serie A side AC Milan before selling the club in June to RedBird for €1.3bn – “are only interested in the 31% of non-Glazer shares that are traded on the NYSE [New York Stock Exchange]”.

As many as eight parties have reportedly submitted a bid for England’s most successful club. Of all the public offers, the proposal put forward by Thomas Zilliacus is comfortably the flimsiest.

The Finnish businessman and former Nokia executive claimed on Twitter to have “put in a bid to buy Manchester United together with the fans, who will have equal say on all sporting matters”.

Less than 24 hours after pledging: “No more sheiks and oligarks controlling football! (sic)” Zilliacus revealed that he had “made a public appeal to my main rivals Sir Jim Ratcliffe and sheik Jassim (sic) to join forces with me to buy Manchester United together”.

There is no evidence that Zilliacus has the necessary funds available to support his original £3bn, sparking widespread ridicule which clearly got to the chairman and founder of Mobile FutureWorks. “Some things never change,” Zilliacus wrote on Friday 24 March. “People who never have done anything cannot stand it when someone tries something new and big. Their reaction is to focus on finding faults and reasons for why it will fail.”

Zilliacus concluded his post by parroting a line he dubiously attributed to the actor Morgan Freeman: “The key to happiness is to avoid being around idiots.”

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On this edition of The Promised Land, part of the 90min podcast network,Scott Saunders andRob Blanchette discuss why Harry Kane would be a better signing for Man Utd than Napoli marksman Victor Osimhen. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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