Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos in race to buy Man Utd

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is said to have joined Qatari Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani to launch an official takeover bid for Manchester United.

According to multiple reports, Ineos Ratcliffe’s company will compete with Al Thani, the chairman of the Qatari bank QIB, to acquire the Old Trafford club from the Glazer family.

Ratcliffe is one of the richest people in the UK with a net worth of £12.5 billion following the success of global chemical company Ineos.

He has previously indicated his desire to buy United – the club he has supported since his youth – although Friday’s soft deadline of 10pm passed without formal comment from the 70-year-old’s camp.

The PA news agency has contacted Ratcliffe – who owns cycling team Ineos Grenadiers, Ligue 1 side Nice, Swiss club Lausanne-Sport and is a one-third shareholder in the Mercedes Formula One team – and Ineos for comment.

Like Ratcliffe, Al Thani claims to be a young United fan, and has revealed that his bid would leave the Old Trafford club debt-free, in contrast to the Glazer family’s controversial leveraged buyout in 2003.

A statement released on Friday night read: “Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani confirmed today that he has an offer for 100 per cent of Manchester United Football Club.

“The bid aims to return the club to its former glory on and off the pitch, and – above all – will seek to put the fans back at the heart of Manchester United Football Club .

“The offering will be entirely debt-free through the Nine Two Sheikh Jassim Foundation, which will seek to invest in the football teams, the training centre, the stadium and wider infrastructure, the fan experience and the communities the club supports with them.

“The vision of the bid is for Manchester United Football Club to be known for football excellence, and to be seen as the best football club in the world.”

The PA news agency understands that the Raine Group – which was brought in to help United evaluate offers – wants the purchase process to come out quickly, with the first quarter of the year identified as prime time.

United could even be under new ownership by the end of the current season.

But ahead of the Qatari announcement – and the possibility of a rival bid from Saudi Arabia – Manchester United’s LGBTQ+ supporters’ group, the Rainbow Devils, raised “extreme concerns” about interest from nations that criminalize same-sex relationships .

“Rainbow Devils believe that any bidder looking to buy Manchester United must commit to making football a sport for all, including LGBTQ+ supporters, players and staff,” the group said on Twitter.

“We are therefore very concerned about some of the offers that are being made. We are watching the current process closely with this in mind.”

The Glazer family effectively opened United to bids in November, raising hopes among supporters that his controversial reign was over.

United, who are third in the Premier League, five points adrift of leaders Manchester City, return to action on Sunday when they face Leicester at Old Trafford.

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