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Manchester United takeover battle now at 'endgame' as favourite named in new report

Manchester United takeover battle now at 'endgame' as favourite named in new report

The sale is continuing to drag on.

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani has now 'slipped ahead' of Sir Jim Ratcliffe in the race to buy Manchester United, it has been claimed.

Both Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim and Britain's richest man Ratcliffe have submitted several bids for the Premier League club.

Reports last week claimed that United are negotiating exclusivity with Sheikh Jassim, who submitted a fifth and final offer for the club earlier this month.

Speculation is growing that the Qatari banker has been successful with his latest offer, which is understood to be worth around $6.5bn (£5.2bn) – with an additional $1bn (around £800m) of investment in the club also pledged.

However, the BBC claim that exclusivity had not yet been granted by Raine - the banking group handling the sale on behalf of the owners, the Glazers - and that talks are continuing with interested parties.

Sheikh Jassim now ahead of Ratcliffe

That information has been backed up by The Guardian journalist Sean Ingle, who says both Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe remain in the hunt to buy the club – even if the Qatari banker is now favourite.

"The sense both publicly and privately is that Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani's Nine Two foundation has slipped ahead of Jim Ratcliffe's INEOS bid after making a fifth and final offer this month," reported Ingle.

"That said, it is understood both parties were still in active and detailed discussions last week, and few behind the scenes are willing to make firm bets.

"That is partly because of the opaqueness of the process, and the uncertainty of the Glazers' full motives – along with the way Raine, the US bank running the sale, has repeatedly tried to ramp up the price.

"Even so, most believe we are now in the endgame."

It is now more than 200 days since the Glazers first announced they were exploring 'strategic alternatives' for the club, effectively putting it up for sale.

There are growing concerns over the length of the sale process and its potential impact on United's summer transfer business, with the domestic window now open for English clubs.

Neville brands Glazers 'embarrassing'

United legend Gary Neville launched a fresh attack on the Glazers on Tuesday.

"I think it's embarrassing," Neville told BBC Radio 5 Live when asked about the ongoing saga.

"But it's what they have done, drag everything out. It's always in their best interests and not in the best interests of the football club.

"I thought they would wait until the end of the season and beyond the FA Cup final so they wouldn't be subjected to protests and then it would be dealt with quite quickly. But just speaking to journalists and people around the club, there's no news.

"The idea of Manchester United Football Club with its millions of fans in this country and around the world not being updated by their owners in respect of an ownership sale is quite frankly not good enough.

“But it's fitting with the Glazers' ownership and how they have operated silently and away from the club over in America for the last 20 years now."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy & PA

Topics: Manchester United, Football, Premier League