MANCHESTER United could be taken OFF the sales market in a massive U-turn.
And instead the Glazer family is considering a scheme to make money from the club’s global fanbase and not the football pitch.
Despite agreeing to meetings with Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani over a potential sale, it appears that ALL possible moves are on the table including scrapping the entire process.
So far there is little sign that any bidders are coming close to the Glazers’ £6bn valuation of the club.
Suggestions of a rift between the Glazer brothers or a possible buy-out by co-chairmen Joel and Avram are being strongly denied.
One senior source said “The family will act as one. It will either be a full sale or an alternative”.
The US-based Raine Group, appointed by the Glazers to handle the sale process set in train in November, is understood to still be looking at a range of options and no final decision has been made.
Those include the full sale that is the intention of Sheikh Jassim, a banker and member of the Qatari royal family.
It would also allow for the proposed Ineos buy-out of the Glazers’ 69 per cent holding but not the rest of the club share stock.
But another option being given serious consideration would be using external cash – four US hedge funds are in the market to have a possible role – to create a new company to push the club’s merchandising and digital commercial operation.
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The unusual set-up would see the Glazers join forces with one deep-pocketed financier – the Los Angeles-based Ares Management fund has assets of £246bn – to create the new entity.
This would allow them to rake in money from potential opportunities from digital sales, video gaming, merchandise licensing that would be separate to what happens to the pitch.
Such a move would be a significant watering down of the family’s ambitions to oversee a full sale.
But it comes with the clock already ticking on a potential sale.
Both the declared bidders believe any deal must be completed by May 31 to allow for a proper and targeted approach to the summer transfer window.
SunSport revealed how Raine intends to only open the club’s books and “data room” of financial information to each bidder in rotation, rather than simultaneously.
It is felt that the complex nature of any deal will need specialist teams to undertake tax, legal and property due diligence, existing contacts and player information before the bidders can come to a more fixed valuation.
The latest development could be seen as a tactic to focus the minds of bidders with the Glazers unwilling to budge from their high valuation – the club’s New York Stock Exchange listing values it at a fraction over £3bn.