(Update: Sheikh Jassim will retain interest in purchasing the club, even if the Glazers don’t answer him by today’s deadline)
Thanks to the hesitation and indecision of the Glazers, the Manchester United Football Club takeover saga has proceeded at a glacial pace. And believe it or not, the mergers and acquisitions saga from hell could still get messier yet. According to Reuters, “Hedge funds are laying the groundwork for a legal fight if the $3 billion soccer club’s controlling Glazer family tries to shut them out of any sale.”
Yikes! And here we were, hoping this mess would clean itself up in time for the summer transfer window.
The Glazers announced their intentions to possibly sell the club back in November. Back in February, Raine Group, a New York City investment bank managing/overseeing the bidding process, began taking and evaluating bids.
There is reportedly division within the Glazer family about what to do with the club moving forward. Some Glazers want to stay on, others want out. Or something like that. This has devolved into basically a real life episode of HBO’s “Succession,” if that show was actually tedious and boring (obviously it isn’t, the truth is actually polar opposite).
One stumbling block is the valuation, with the Glazers wanting at least 5 billion pounds ($6.3 billion), according to the BBC. Basically, they want to make sure they eclipse the all-time record for a sports franchise sale, and do so in a manner that keeps them in the #1 spot for a long time.
With the Washington Commanders just recently breaking the record set by their NFL brethren, the Denver Broncos, only the year prior, the valuation just keeps skyrocketing. Yesterday brought news that Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani has bid in the neighborhood of what they’re looking for.
Sheikh Jassim is seeking a full 100% ownership stake of the club, and even willing to take on MUFC’s approximate $900 million in debt to do so. Reportedly, the fifth bid that he submitted this week will be his final offer. Sheik Jassim also gave the Glazers an ultimatum to act on his offer.
He has since softened his stance, we just learned. The only other really serious bidder is English chemicals tycoon Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Founder of INEOS, whose plan would potentially see the Glazers stay on, but in a minority shareholder role. As you might expect, given all the supporter backlash against the Glazers, Sheikh Jassim is the fan favorite.
As for Ratcliffe, no, he is not too popular among the base. But hey, at least he isn’t the Glazers, who literally tanked the stock price when news emerged a couple months ago that they were going to stay.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.