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Manchester United takeover updates: Bidders fear Glazer family U-turn

Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe submitted bids last months but have not yet heard back from the Raine Group.

Manchester United bidders fear Glazer family U-turn

The proposed sale of Manchester United rumbles on in the background at Old Trafford after months of talks.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Sheikh Jassim and Elliott, a US-based hedge fund, have all confirmed that they have submitted bids for England’s most successful football club. There are thought to be a number of other interested parties too, some of whom may have tabled bids.

But more than a week after all bidders were asked to submit their offers, none of the parties have received a response from Raine Group, the organisation overseeing the sale on behalf of the Glazers.

The Guardian reports that at least one of the interested parties has expressed concerns that the Glazer family may be split on the prospect of selling up after two decades in charge of Manchester United.

Elliott’s bid is thought to be for a minority stake and the Glazers could opt for a deal like this to ensure that they retain a controlling interest in the club. It would allow the current owners to bring in new investment while remaining the owners.

Why would the Glazer family decide to keep Manchester United?

Since their initial takeover in 2003 the Glazer family have been unpopular proprietors of one of the world’s most marketable sports clubs. They purchased Manchester United using a leveraged debt mechanism and have taken out hundreds of millions of dollars from the club in the past 20 years.

Many were surprised to hear that they were now willing to hear offers, but the sale of Chelsea for a record £4.25 billion ($5.4bn) may have tempted the family into a sale.

However economic circumstances have changed in recent months and may have reduced the club’s valuation. The Glazers’ takeover saddled the club with a huge amount of debt which has cost more than £1 billion to service over the years.

Turbulent global economic conditions have pushed up interest rates and will make it even more expensive to service the debts. Poor economic trends globally may have discouraged potential buyers and prevented a real bidding war from breaking out.

The bottom line is that the Glazer family will be in no hurry to sell the club unless they receive a lucrative offer, likely one that far exceeds its market.