Man Utd owners the Glazers 'finally pick preferred bidder' as takeover deal edges closer

Manchester United's owners the Glazers are finally ready to hand over the keys to Old Trafford after reportedly electing Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS as their preferred bidder. Following a gruelling fifth-month process, it appears the American billionaires are now edging closer to selling majority control of the club after encouraging several rounds of bidding that has created impatience and unrest amongst supporters.

It's understood that the US-based Raine Group, who were entrusted to oversee the sale of the club, are expected to disclose details of the final successful bid in the coming days.

The Sun are now reporting that much to the surprise of United's supporters, Sir Jim Ratcliffe is set to come out on top despite the best efforts of Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani.

The majority of United's fan base are desperate for the Qataris to take over the reins from the Glazers as they have promised to invest huge cash on reviving the fortunes of the club.

Meanwhile, Ratcliffe and INEOS' project is centred around delivering a sustainable long-term future for the club via "fan-centred ownership."

A statement back in February read: "We would want to help lead this next chapter, deepening the culture of English football by making the club a beacon for a modern, progressive, fan-centred approach to ownership.

"We want a Manchester United anchored in its proud history and roots in the North-West of England, putting the Manchester back into Manchester United and clearly focusing on winning the Champions League."

Ratcliffe was in Manchester last month to take a look around Old Trafford as he seeks to oust the Qataris without paying what he considers to be an unreasonable figure.

But United fans have struggled to buy into his vision given that Ligue 1 side Nice have failed to make progress since they were purchased by INEOS in August 2019.

The report claims Old Trafford insiders have indicated that United's current owners the Glazers would prefer to sell majority control as opposed to overseeing a full sale of the club.

Sheikh Jassim has reportedly tabled an offer of £5bn to buy the Red Devils outright but the Glazers have been hesitant to completely pack their bags despite receiving such an eye-watering proposal that still falls £1bn short of their £6bn valuation.

INEOS' offer will allow both Joel and Avram Glazers to maintain their 20 per cent stake in United moving forward even if they relinquish full control.

Ratcliffe is keen to include 'put-and-call arrangements' which would lead to the Glazers leaving United altogether further down the line.

Britain's wealthiest man would be able to exercise the arrangements in 2026 - when the Glazers would be forced to sell their remaining shares to him.

There has also been substantial interest from American hedge fund Elliott Investment Management, who previously sold AC Milan for £970m.

However, it's said Ratcliffe is now on course to battle his way past rival bids as the takeover now reaches the crunch final stages.

The Glazers announced back in November that they were considering selling up while also "exploring strategic alternatives" with regards to investment opportunities. It appears we are now finally reaching the end of the line.

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