Manchester United: Qatari bizman Sheikh Jassim withdraws from process to buy club
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is close to agreeing on a deal to buy 25 per cent of Manchester United after Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani withdrew from the bidding process.
Sheikh Jassim’s offer, which valued United at more than £5bn, was believed to be the only bid for 100 per cent of the club.
But it is understood that the Qatari’s valuation was not sufficient for the Glazers, who have owned United since 2005 – so Shiekh Jassim has withdrawn from the process.
The other proposal is to buy around 25 per cent of the club by petrochemicals billionaire Sir Jim, who has said he has been a fan of the club since childhood, which now looks close to being agreed.
Sky News learned last month that Sir Jim’s Ineos Sports vehicle proposed to the controlling Glazer family a deal that would see it acquiring chunks of both their shares and the stock publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in equal proportion.
That offer would entail making an offer at the same price for both sets of shares.
Sheikh Jassim wanted to buy the club outright and launched what his party described as a fifth and final bid in June in an effort to get the deal over the line.
The Qatari’s first bid for the club was made in February.
Sheikh Jassim’s bid team had floated the possibility of withdrawing in May after a lack of progress since making an apparent final offer requested by the Glazers in April.
Sheikh Jassim is understood to have raised his offer in June, but it was not satisfactory for the Glazers despite being far more than the club’s $3.3bn valuation on the New York Stock Exchange.
The difference between the parties is over the valuation – which still leaves open the possibility of Sheikh Jassim being enticed back into the protracted process – as protests against the Glazers continue.
Anger against the ownership has simmered and grown as United have started the season by losing four of their opening eight Premier League games to sit 10th in the table.
Erik ten Hag’s side have also lost both Champions’ League group games so far in the 2023-24 campaign.
Sheikh Jassim’s offer would have made United the most expensive sports team in history by at least £200m, eclipsing the deal to buy NFL side Washington Commanders, but still fell short of the Glazers’ own valuation of the club at around £6bn, it was reported earlier this year.
The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) has urged the Glazer family to “make their position clear”.
“We hope this news accelerates that process rather than delays it,” a statement said following Sheikh Jassim’s withdrawal. “Based on the last 11 months, no one can be quite sure.”
United are in need of investment to upgrade Old Trafford and win the Premier League for the first time since a record 20th league title in 2013.
The Glazers have owned Manchester United since buying it for just under £800m in 2005 – an 18-year tenure marked by protests and a conspicuous dearth of trophies since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, the club’s former manager, also in 2013.
The Red Devils did win their first trophy in six years by beating Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup final back in February.