The proposed takeover of Manchester United was reportedly plunged into chaos on Wednesday evening following a late decision to extend the 9pm deadline for fresh bids.
It’s claimed that Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani initially made an improved world-record offer of around £5billion to buy the Premier League giants from the Glazer family.
However, a report in The Sun states that he withdrew that offer. It comes after deal organisers Raine Group later extended the deadline by 48 hours. A planned revised offer is now expected.
Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe was also ready to submit his offer, also thought to be in the region of £5bn. However, he delayed it after Raine changed the goalposts on Wednesday night.
Raine have now indicated there could be as many as eight bids by the new deadline of 9pm this Friday.
Only one of those, US hedge fund Elliott Management, has actually declared itself. Meanwhile, Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe remain the leading contenders.
Their latest bids will smash the record £3.75bn fee paid for NFL outfit the Denver Broncos last summer.
However, one critical factor remains in terms of whether the Glazers will actually sell up. They currently want a figure of around £6bn to walk away from Old Trafford.
The Sun adds that, unlike Ratcliffe’s Ineos group, who want to buy out the Glazers’ 69 per cent share, and Sheikh Jassim – who envisages a full takeover – Elliott Management are merely seeking to forward funds to potential bidders.
Other interested parties could also only be keen on providing funding rather than actually buying the cub outright.
Raine Group chasing more United offers
But by giving bidders an extra 48 hours to make offers, the Raine group clearly believes there are more options.
However, the top two bidders are still concerned the Glazers will not sell unless their £6bn valuation is met.
United’s share price on the New York Stock Exchange actually rose more than four per cent on Wednesday. It actually reacjed a ‘market capitalisation’ of £3.33bn.
The Sun actually reported earlier this month that another option for the Glazers is to ‘hive off the club’s commercial and merchandising arm into another branch of the club’. Or they could simply just take United off the market.
However, Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe both remain keen on striking a deal. Indeed, they were given a grand tour of Old Trafford just last week.
The focus will now switch to Friday’s 9m deadline in the fight to buy Manchester United.
On the pitch, United are back in action on Sunday April 2 when they face top-four rivals Newcastle.