Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim bin Hamas Al Thani will make a world-record bid for Manchester United before tonight’s 9pm deadline.

There will be at least five bids and there could be as many as eight before the Raine group – who are marketing the sale – closes for business at 5pm in New York (9pm UK time).

Not all of those bids are to buy the club outright, though, with at least half expected to be from those interested in a minority stake or those who are willing to provide financing options for other parties.

Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe are the leading contenders but there is no favourite at present, with the highest first-round bids having valued the club at around £4.5bn – well short of the Glazer family’s £6bn asking price.

Other known bidders so far include Elliott Management, while Ares, MSD Partners and Oaktree Capital are also said to be interested.

There is no guarantee the Glazer family will sell United and they may decide to sell a minority stake and use capital raised to pay down debt and invest for growth.

The Raine group and the Glazers will take around a week to evaluate the new bids and decide on their next move.

One bidder could be given exclusivity, although it is more likely there will be another round of bids with a smaller group of preferred bidders.

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe arrives at Old Trafford on Friday as talks continue about a potential takeover of Manchester United

Ratcliffe and his INEOS delegation have been described as impressive and sophisticated in their approach having visited the club for six hours last Friday.

Ratcliffe says he will not pay a “stupid” price for United but his interest in club would be “purely in winning things”, calling the club a “community asset”.

It was previously understood the Qatari bidders were determined not to pay over the odds for the club, but that stance has softened in recent days coinciding with a delegation’s visit to Old Trafford.

A Qatari delegation travelled to Manchester from London by train and received a warm welcome. Talks were held across 10 hours – a lot longer than expected.

Sheikh Jassim and members of his team had been to Old Trafford as fans before, and the focus of this visit was to get a perspective on what they could do with their capital investment regarding infrastructure, youth development and the women’s team.

Any bid of more than £3.75bn would break the world record fee for a sports club set when the Denver Broncos were sold last summer.

The Washington Commanders are also up for sale and are expected to change hands for more than that as well.

Beginning of the end? What will it take for Glazers to sell?

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Kaveh Solhekol updates on the Glazer’s potential sale of Manchester United as the Wednesday 9pm deadline looms

Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

“If someone comes along and offers £6bn-£7bn, then the Raine Group and the Glazers look at that and say, ‘you know what, these people have made such a good bid, we’re going to give them exclusivity’. That means they get access to all the books, nobody else does, and they look to tie up a deal to sell the club to them.

“If that happens, Wednesday could be the beginning of the end. But what’s much more likely is that five bids, maybe as many as eight, will go in, and there’ll be a third stage of bidding as well. I think it’ll be whittled down again and this will keep on running for another few weeks.

“I still think it won’t be done until the end of the season, the beginning of the transfer window, and the Glazers could well stay at the club.

“They might look at all the offers and say, ‘that’s not good enough, we think Man Utd is worth a lot more, especially in the future,’ so they just send a minority stake to a hedge fund or an investment company, and use the money to pay off some of the debt, do up Old Trafford or the training ground a little bit, and stay in control. I was told on Tuesday morning not to discount that as a possibility – it could still happen.”


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