Manchester United fans display banners in protest of the Glazer family’s ownership of the club ahead of the match on April 13, 2023. | Image Credit: Reuters
Nearly five months after the Glazer family put Manchester United on the market, fans of the iconic soccer club are growing impatient as the proposed sale continues.
Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe are both hoping to take control of the 20-time English league champions and submitted a second bid last month.
American investment firm Elliott Management could also take a minority stake as well as provide capital to other potential buyers, with the price potentially rising to as high as $6 billion.
But the continued wait to get a deal done has supporters worried the club’s offseason transfer plans will be affected at a time when manager Erik ten Hag hopes to sign a world class striker. Harry Kane and Victor Osimhen are among the names linked and won’t come cheap either.
Following reports that there will be a third round of bids, the Manchester United Supporters Trust said on Thursday that the uncertainty was a “huge concern”.
“Erik needs to know what resources he has to spend so that he can make the signings that the club needs, and the entire resources of the club’s management need to be dedicated to supporting him in that regard,” MUST said in a statement. “That cannot happen with future ownership that is unclear.”
United’s American owners announced in November that they would consider selling the club as they explored “strategic alternatives”.
That appears to have paved the way for their departure after years of fighting supporters’ attempts to oust them.
Based on the public bids, Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe appear to be the leading contenders, with merchant bank Raine Group overseeing the process.
But frustration is mounting as the wait for a new owner drags on.
“Rude way to run a sales process. They need to leave at the end of May to give the new owner a fighting chance to affect the next transfer window and move!” former United captain and now TV pundit Gary Neville tweeted this week.
United declined to comment on MUST’s statement. In Thursday’s Europa League quarterfinals first leg against Sevilla at Old Trafford, United fans continued to voice their frustration, chanting “We want the Glazers” after Marcel Sabitzer scored early in the first half. half
Sheikh Jassim is the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank and the son of a former prime minister.
He pledged to rid the club of debt, invest in the stadium, training center and playing squads in a bid to “return the club to its former glory on and off the pitch”.
Ratcliffe owns petrochemicals giant INEOS and is one of Britain’s richest men. He was born in Failsworth, Greater Manchester and said he is focused on United winning the Champions League and becoming “the number one club in the world again.”
Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus said on Wednesday that he was no longer interested.
Any new owners would likely have to spend in the region of $1 billion to redevelop or rebuild United’s Old Trafford stadium.
“We are in dire need of new investment, which undoubtedly requires new ownership,” said the trust’s supporters. “Along with United fans around the world, (we) are calling for this process to be concluded without further delay.”