Manchester United could become the most expensive sports team in the world, after a Qatari businessman entered a record-breaking offer as the bidding window slammed closed.
Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad, who chairs the Qatar Islamic Bank, submitted his final offer for the club on Friday, Sky News understands, with the figure offered thought to be around £5bn.
The Qatari is said to be seeking 100% ownership.
Sheikh Jassim’s offer would make United the most expensive sports team in history by at least £200m, eclipsing the £4.8bn ongoing deal to buy NFL side Washington Commanders, but still falls short of the Glazers’ own valuation of the club at around £6bn.
It would include a guarantee of a separate pot of investment to strengthen Erik Ten Hag’s side, as well as developing the infrastructure around the club in terms of both the Old Trafford stadium and training ground, as well as the local area.
INEOS owner Jim Ratcliffe has also submitted his final bid for the club, with Sky Sports News saying the deal would only get him around 50% of the club’s shares, which could leave the current owners Avram and Joel Glazer with a combined 40% of control.
Leaving the Glazer family with any control of the club would likely anger fan groups, who have for some time wanted to permanently cut ties with the outgoing owners.
The Florida-based Elliott investment fund’s planned bid for a minority stake in the club has yet to be confirmed, along with any other outstanding offers made late in the day.
The final round of bidding moves the club a step closer to ending the five-month saga since the Glazers first announced they were considering selling United in November 2022.
“People close to the Sheikh have been telling me they’re convinced this is the best bid,” explained chief Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol.
“They think there’s not one that comes close to this. It’s for 100% of the club, it’s debt free, and money will be made available not just to Erik Ten Hag, but also for improving the infrastructure around the club; doing the kind of thing Man City have done in Manchester.
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Bidding war for Manchester United
Read more on the Man United takeover:
Who are contenders to buy Man Utd?
Manchester United sale: Eight bids could be made as Wednesday deadline looms
Over the coming days the Glazer family and Raine Group, who helped to complete Chelsea’s sale to American billionaire Todd Boehly last year, are expected to consider the bids on the table and which, if any, to accept.
United fans have been at odds with the Glazers as far back as 2005, when they purchased the club and plunged it into debt.
A protest is planned by a fan group known as the 1958 at Sunday’s game against Aston Villa, where supporters will march through Manchester and boycott 18 minutes of the game.
“We boycott the game for 18 minutes,” the 1958 said. “One minute for each year the Glazers have driven our club into the ground.”