The Manchester United takeover appears no nearer coming to fruition after Rio Ferdinand lifted the lid on a potentially-pivotal stand-off between the Glazers and Sheikh Jassim.
The Red Devils have been up for sale since last November, when the Glazers decided to cash in on their shares. They have owned United since Malcolm Glazer’s £790m purchase of the club back in 2005.
However, with the ownership of the club passing to his sons, Joel and Avram, the Americans have proved hugely-unpopular majority shareholders.
Indeed, their reign has been dogged by supporter protests, unhappy at their running of the club and mounting debts.
That said, the end appeared to be in sight when both Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim made firm proposals to buy the club.
Ratcliffe’s INEOS bid is reportedly worth £5.5bn, but plans to keep the Glazers as minority stakeholders.
The Qatari bid, fronted by Sheikh Jassim, is worth an estimated £6bn. They also plan to wipe out the club’s reported £500m debts as well as provide substantial money for team rebuilding.
But the issue has dragged on for months, with the Raine Group – who are handling the takeover – still no nearer to choosing their preferred bidder.
Frustratingly for Erik ten Hag, it has also badly impacted his summer transfer plans. Had the takeover gone through, Ten Hag would have had vast funds at his disposal. Instead, he is being forced to work within the Glazers’ £120m budget. Further funds can be created by player sales.
Man Utd takeover affecting Ten Hag transfer plans
But with a deal for Mason Mount closing in, Ten Hag now has limited funds to further strengthen his squad. United have reportedly settled on a fee of around £60m for Mount, which bites a sizeable hole into their current budget.
And with a striker, a defender and a goalkeeper also on his wishlist, a nervous few weeks are likely to lie ahead.
To that end, it seems as though Ten Hag’s best-laid plans are to go to waste. And with his budget likely to be severely impacted, it may prove a much more modest summer spend for the club.
That said, Sheikh Jassim’s party appear to be the ones most favoured to secure a takeover at the club. However, having already raised their offer a number of times, it appears the Glazers are trying to squeeze even more cash out of them.
As a result, Rio Ferdinand is concerned an impasse has now been reached. Speaking on his Vibe with Five YouTube channel, he also does not expect Sheikh Jassim to raise his bid further.
“I think the Qataris have gone as far as they’re gonna go,” he said.
“I think they’ve gone as far as they’re gonna go with the bid. This is them, this is their final offer. It’s a kinda take it or leave it-type situation.
“I can’t see it being anything else [other] than that. I can’t see the statement being anything else but ‘we are here, we’re at the table but we’re being held back’.”
Glazers responsible for Man Utd takeover delay
Ferdinand is also adamant that the Glazers are the reason behind the takeover delay.
“Things were running quite smooth and it was going down the right path,” he explained. “I think the big issue is when you’re dealing with a group of people rather than an individual it makes things very complex and difficult at times.
“You’re not dealing with one individual with the Glazers. You’re dealing with – I think Jim Ratcliffe came out and said it, and I think that’s been the issue behind the scenes, I didn’t want to be able to come out and say it – but yeah you’re dealing with siblings in the Glazer family who are there to make a collective decision.
“I don’t think one person can just make a decision on their own. Therefore that makes it very difficult to kind of say yes immediately, just like that. It’s a process that they have to go through.”