March 21, 2023
Eight groups in talks with Manchester United as ownership battle intensifies

Eight groups in talks with Manchester United as ownership battle intensifies

Manchester United players at Old Trafford – Martin Rickett/PA

Up to eight groups are in talks with Manchester United over future ownership of the club, Telegraph Sport reports.

Representatives for Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe are among those holding meetings in Manchester as the Glazers keep guessing at the top contenders.

Some of the eight are interested in a full acquisition, while others are contemplating financing options. The brokers are in the middle of a busy meeting schedule and met with US hedge fund Elliott Management last week. However, it is understood that Elliott Management is not interested in a full takeover.

As Telegraph Sport reported, United executives have been explaining to bidders the “opportunities and challenges” of running the club. A source close to the talks says United director of football John Murtough is among the delegation addressing interested parties.

Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe’s representatives will attend Old Trafford this week as two of four meetings scheduled for Friday. There will also be at least one additional meeting with another interested party next week before United’s controversial owners decide who should advance to a third stage of talks.

Experts say the process is still ongoing and a deal can be reached by the end of next month, despite fears elsewhere that the deadline could be extended.

Only the Qatari and Ineos bids have publicly disclosed their preference for an outright purchase of the controlling Class B shares of the six Glazer brothers. Sources with knowledge of the process assure that there are two other parties interested in buying the club in its entirety.

Instead, other groups, like Elliott, are prepared to help finance an acquisition by an interested party. Elliott owned AC Milan before selling the club to American investment group RedBird Capital last year. US hedge funds Ares, MSD Partners and Oaktree Capital are also said to be willing to provide financing.

The Americans want to sell at least £5bn, but offers from Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe are believed to fall short of that valuation.

UEFA considers relaxing dual ownership rules

Yet another hurdle for those two interested parties may be removed as UEFA considers allowing clubs with the same ownership to play in the Champions League simultaneously. Aleksander Ceferin, UEFA president, said in an interview this week with Gary Neville’s The Overlap YouTube channel that there was a need to rethink the existing rules.

Ratcliffe’s Ineos group also owns Nice, while there have been concerns about links between Sheikh Jassim, chairman of one of Qatar’s biggest banks, and Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain.

But Ceferin said: “We are not just thinking about Manchester United. We have had five or six club owners who want to buy another club. We have to see what to do. The options are that it stays that way or that we let them play in the same competition. I’m not sure yet.

“We have to talk about these regulations and see what to do about it. There is increasing interest in this multi-club property. We shouldn’t just say no to multi-club ownership investments, but we have to see what kind of rules we set in that case, because the rules have to be strict.”

At United, meetings are taking place between interested parties and Raine, the commercial bank leading the process, and financial advisers to the Glazers, Rothschilds in Manchester.

Insiders told Telegraph Sport that the Glazers, whose United ownership has been shunned by fan groups since their acquisition in 2005, remain “decided sellers” at the right price.

Bidders have access to more detailed financial information and the opportunity to take a closer look at Old Trafford and the club’s training base in Carrington, both of which require substantial investment. “They’re going to get a chance to look under the hood,” a source said.

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