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Manchester United takeover updates: Will the Glazers sell before the summer?

The Old Trafford club’s fate has been up in the air for months but Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS group is thought to be in pole position.

Will Manchester United be sold before the summer?
ED SYKESAction Images via Reuters

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is thought to be in pole position to agree a purchase deal with Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, but sources in England report that a sale is unlikely to be concluded before the summer.

The Independent reports that in recent weeks Ratcliffe’s INEOS firm have had the most positive contact with Raine Group, who are handling the bidding process on the Glazers family’s behalf.

INEOS are reportedly “optimistic” that a deal could be in place to buy the club ahead of the summer window. This would likely be seen as a positive step in Manchester United’s long-term prospects, but will make things very difficult in the transfer market this summer.

El empresario británico está cerca de poder completar de manera exitosa la adquicisón del Manchester United a los Glazer.
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Sir Jim Ratcliffe is thought to be in pole position to buy the club.PHIL NOBLEREUTERS

Until the situation is fully resolved neither the Glazers nor any prospective buyers are likely to commit significant funds to signings.

As it stands Ratcliffe’s bid is considered the most likely to appeal to the Glazers. Interest from Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim appears to have cooled and the Gulf State-backed venture has not returned with a significantly improved bid.

Political complications could scupper Qatari bid

For a while there was an assumption that the Qatari-led bid was likely to triumph on account of the huge wealth at their disposal. However the group is holding out for a 100% stake in the Premier League club and appears unwilling to meet the Glazers’ estimates.

Last month Raine set a final deadline for interested parties to submit their third bids. Sheikh Jassim’s group tabled an offer of less than £5 billion ($6.22bn), far below the Glazer’s target.

There is a chance that the Qataris could return with much-improved offer and blow Ratcliffe’s bid out of the water. However, aside from the valuation, the Glazers are aware of potential ownership issues with the Qatari bid.

It is thought that the Premier League’s Owners and Directors test would halt a Qatari deal by up to nine months, bringing further instability to the club. There is also be the possibility that Sheikh Jassim’s ownership offer could be rejected by the league.

After months of speculation, Manchester United fans will have hoped to have the ownership issue resolved ahead of a crucial summer for the club. That looks, at this stage, extremely unlikely.