Manchester United bidders Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani have reportedly been left 'irked' by the Glazers' latest demands during a complicated takeover process. With supporters keen to see the back of their controversial owners, the saga could face a delay unless they go public with their explicit intention to sell.
The Glazers have so far kept their cards close to their chest, having been in control of United since acquiring a controlling stake in 2005. Avram Glazer was confronted about the issue outside a restaurant late last year, to which he admitted that he and his family were 'considering strategic alternatives'.
As time has passed, a full-scale takeover now appears inevitable and a soft deadline for proposals was set for last Friday. Ratcliffe, with the backing of his petrochemicals company INEOS, and Qatari banker Al Thani are the only two thought to have lodged bids with the intention of taking over completely.
A series of American hedge funds have also reportedly expressed an interest, although they mainly concern financing other bids and working with other suitors.
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The American billionaires, headed up by Joel and Avram Glazer at ground level, have practically remained silent since inviting bids several months ago. Fans face a delay in the takeover process unless the Glazers go public, amid a feeling that the continued uncertainty is preventing the beginning of a dialogue between prospective owners and fan groups.
Exactly who will take the reins at Old Trafford has been a topic of hot debate since the two main bidders emerged. Sources close to Al Thani's proposal reportedly insist that he is acting alone, separate from the Qatari state or its sovereign wealth fund, although human rights group Amnesty International has urged caution.
"Fan groups are right to be concerned that a Qatari buyout of Manchester United is likely to be part of a wider programme of Qatari sportswashing, where the glamour of football is used to refashion the country’s image regardless of serious and systematic human rights abuses," said Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK's economic affairs director.
"The Qatar World Cup has come and gone, yet we’re still waiting for reforms to improve the lives of exploited migrant workers in Qatar as well as a worker compensation fund – while disgraceful anti-LGBTQ+ laws remain in force, and freedom of speech and women’s rights are still unacceptably curtailed."