Prospective Manchester United buyers are set to meet with the club this week as steps towards a potential takeover at Old Trafford continue.
Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe are the faces of competing bids from Qatar and INEOS respectively. They are the only two bidders to have gone public with their intention to buy the club, although other undisclosed parties still remain in contention.
The ‘soft deadline’ for offers passed on 17 February, at which point bidders were required to provide details and proof of funds to Raine Group, the investment banking firm overseeing the process.
90min understands that representatives of Sheikh Jassim, who is the son of a former Qatari prime minister, will meet with United on Thursday. The following day, the INEOS contingent – including Ratcliffe in person – will also arrive for their own talks.
Ratcliffe has been a popular choice with many supporters due to his own roots growing up a United fan in Oldham. The 70-year-old, who made his fortune in the chemicals industry, made a late bid to buy Chelsea in the summer and has other existing sporting ventures in cycling, as well as owning football clubs Lausanne-Sport and OGC Nice.
Relatively little is known about Sheikh Jassim, a banker and lifelong United fan, but he graduated as an officer cadet from the UK’s Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst before going into finance.
The Glazer family first announced their intention to consider ‘strategic alternatives’, including the possibility of a full takeover, in November last year. Their valuation of the club is thought to be at least £6bn, substantially more than Chelsea were sold for (£4.25bn), although it is not believed that any bid had reached that valuation at the start of March.