Manchester United bids: what we know so far

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim have tabled bids for 20-time English champions, and now US hedge fund Elliott has reportedly joined the race to finance any potential takeover

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The race to take control of Manchester United intensified on Saturday as British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe formally challenged a Qatari banker for the ownership of the English football giants, while US hedge fund Elliott has also thrown its hat into the ring to provide financing for any potential bid.

United are currently owned by the US-based Glazer family — with the cost of purchasing one of the world's most recognisible sports teams expected to reach around $6 billion.

Here's what we know so far:

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani. AFP

Sheikh Jassim bid

A consortium led by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank, announced on Friday that it had submitted an offer to take over the 20-time English champions.

“Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani today confirmed his submission of a bid for 100 per cent of Manchester United Football Club,” a statement read.

The 41-year-old, educated at Britain's elite Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, claims to be a long-time United fan. He launched a bid via his Nine Two Foundation, promising investment in both the team and a fading Old Trafford, as well as training facilities, the "fan experience" and the "communities the club supports".

“More details of the bid will be released, when appropriate, if and when the bid process develops,” said the statement, which added that the bid “will be completely debt free”.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe. PA

Sir Jim Ratcliffe bid

The British billionaire and his petrochemicals firm Ineos have confirmed their bid for "majority ownership" of Manchester United.

Ineos said it wants to make the club a "beacon for a modern, progressive, fan-centred approach to ownership".

"We are ambitious and highly competitive and would want to invest in Manchester United to make them the number one club in the world once again."

The 70-year-old Ratcliffe is keen to expand a sporting portfolio that already includes French football club Nice and Swiss team FC Lausanne-Sport, as well as the cycling team Ineos Grenadiers, formerly Team Sky.

Ratcliffe, born in Failsworth, Greater Manchester, is one of Britain's wealthiest people, with an estimated net worth of £12.5 billion ($15 billion) following the success of Ineos, his global chemical company.

The boyhood United fan vowed to restore the Old Trafford side as the "number one club in the world again" after 10 years without a Premier League title triumph.

Financial details of the bid have not been disclosed.

Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium. Reuters

A third player?

On Saturday, The Times newspaper reported that American hedge fund giant Elliott had made a bid — but not a full takeover of the kind proposed by both Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim.

The Times reported that Elliott, the former owners of Italian giants AC Milan, had made an "eleventh-hour swoop" for United.

Citing unnamed sources, The Times added Elliott, which manages $56 billion (£46 billion) in assets, had ruled itself out of a full takeover of United, but has offered to provide the financing for a bid — which could include debt funding.

Why are the Glazers selling?

The American Glazer family completed their takeover of United in 2005, and announced in November that they were open to a sale or investment.

The Glazers bought United in a £790 million ($938.9 million) leveraged buyout, that saddled the club with a mountains of debt, and had been unpopular with fans even before last year’s move to join a breakaway European Super League.

Manchester United have brought in The Raine Group to assess offers.

A price tag of around $6 billion would smash the record fee for a football club set when a consortium led by LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital purchased Chelsea last year.

United, one of the most successful clubs in English football history, have failed to win any silverware since 2017, struggling to keep pace with bitter rivals Manchester City since the retirement of legendary boss Alex Ferguson in 2013.

United sit third in the Premier League, after an improvement in form under manager Erik ten Hag, who took over before the start of the current campaign.

They return to action for the first time since the bids were lodged against Leicester City in a Premier League clash at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Updated: February 19, 2023, 6:30 AM