Glazers have ‘less appealing’ option which could delay Man Utd takeover

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag reviews Wolves win

The future of Manchester United remains in the balance as the Glazer family tries to come to a decision over who should become the club’s next owners. But selecting the right custodian for one of the biggest football clubs in Europe is proving to be a high-stakes task of increasing difficulty.

With only two serious bidders in the ring, it is effectively a straight choice between British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Qatar’s Nine Two Foundation, which is led by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani.

But just as 70-year-old Ratcliffe appeared to be emerging as the clear favourite to take the reins at Old Trafford, Sheikh Jassim has reportedly submitted a fourth and final bid in the region of £5billion.

The Qatari bid is believed to be lower than the offer on the table from Ratcliffe and the INEOS group – which also allows the Glazers to retain a 20% stake in the club, but would be paid in full straight away, clearing United’s club debts which were last recorded at around £536million.

That type of ‘cash bid’ could be seen as particularly attractive to the Glazers, who would be able to liquidate an asset that they have personally valued as high as £6billion very quickly.

But a fresh report in The Athletic suggests that the terms of the ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ Qatari offer might actually be less appealing to United’s American owners and a lack of background information around Sheikh Jassim is creating a level of uncertainty.

Representatives at Raine, the merchant bank tasked with handling the search for ‘strategic alternatives,’ are said to be surprised that there has been no direct contact made by Sheikh Jassim during the business end of negotiations, preferring to operate through intermediaries instead.

The Sheikh’s own representatives maintain that the Qatari boss is not someone who likes to be in the public eye, something that is backed up by a distant lack of information available about him online. Only a handful of photographs can be found and very little else.

As the golden opportunity to seize control of Manchester United reaches its critical stage, the lack of direct dialogue between the club and Sheikh Jassim could prove significant.

That approach is in stark contrast to Ratcliffe, who has already toured both Old Trafford and United’s Carrington training ground in person. Instead, Sheikh Jassim sent a delegation from his Nine Two Foundation, which included the group’s president Shahzad Shahbaz and senior advisor, Fady Bakhos.

The Athletic says that the level of privacy involved in the Qatari deal could make their offer ‘less appealing’, as the Premier League is likely to take longer to ratify the takeover, leaving the Glazers in limbo until it was concluded.

United’s owners want to cash out straight away but there is a difference in opinion even amongst the family itself. The Red Devils’ co-chairmen Avram and Joel Glazer are believed to be the most reluctant to sell, but siblings Bryan, Edward and Kevin Glazer, as well as sister Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, are happy to cash in their shares as soon as possible.

But with identifying the correct new custodian of Manchester United such a significant decision, the task of accurately establishing both bidders’ ultimate source of wealth is a process that is already underway and could be critical to the final destination of the club.

Source: Read Full Article