The Glazers are anticipated to begin negotiating a price with the leading bidders for Manchester United.
The club was put up for sale by its owners in November, with Qatari financier Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, INEOS CEO Sir Jim Ratcliffe, and Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus leading the race. Other parties are interested in acquiring a minority position in the company.
Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe have both made several bids for United, although none has come close to matching the Glazers’ £6 billion value. As a result, the Raine Group, which is handling the transaction on the Glazers’ behalf, will immediately begin negotiating a price.
According to The Telegraph, these conversations will begin in the coming days. Both Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe are thought to have bid more than £5 billion for the Glazers’ shares, breaking the record £3.8 billion sale of NFL team Denver Broncos last year.
The Glazers are aiming to acquire £6 billion by selling their controlling 79% interest in United. Ratcliffe is thought to want to buy out the Glazers but not the rest of the shareholders, whereas Sheikh Jassim wants to buy 100% of the club.
Some speculate that the Glazers may make a U-turn and remain at Old Trafford or sell only a minority stake. That could happen, but Americans are still prepared to sell… at the right price. It is simply too early to determine how this tale will end.
If a bidder is successful, they will have to invest far more than the Glazers’ asking price. More than £1 billion would be required to refurbish or restore Old Trafford, and about £1 billion in debt will be inherited from the existing custodians.
The sale has divided the Six Glazer brothers. Joel and Avram, who are the most involved in the club, want to stay, while Kevin, Edward, Bryan, and Darcie are eager to sell. For a variety of reasons, the Glazers are unpopular among United fans.
United have not won the Premier League title since 2013, and have now gone six years without a trophy, while much of the club’s infrastructure, including as Old Trafford, has deteriorated. Supporters are also concerned about the debt.
Zilliacus has asked the other bidders to join him in a joint bid for United. “We could agree on a price the Glazers will accept, and instead of one of us paying a huge sum to buy United, we split the cost into three,” he told Mirror Football earlier this month.
“We then put the money we’ve saved towards improving the club and pooling our collective expertise to help rebuild the club we all love.”
“I once heard that you don’t buy a Ferrari and then split it with two other individuals. However, this is not an ego trip for me. I don’t believe you can ever buy a club like Manchester United – the club belongs to the supporters. I would consider myself a curator of the club, with the obligation of building and protecting it until the time comes for me to go.”