Manchester United fans growing impatient for sale of club


MANCHESTER, England (AP) – Nearly five months after the Glazer family put Manchester United on the market, the iconic soccer club’s fans are growing impatient as the proposed sale goes on.

Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe are both hoping to take control of the 20-time English league champions and submitted second bids last month.

American investment firm Elliott Management could also take a minority stake as well as provide capital to other potential buyers, with the price possibly rising as high as $6 billion.

But the ongoing wait to get a deal done has supporters worried the club’s offseason transfer plans will be impacted at a time when manager Erik ten Hag hopes to sign a world class striker. Harry Kane and Victor Osimhen are among the names linked and neither would come cheap.

Following reports that there will be a third round of bids, the Manchester United Supporters Trust said Thursday the uncertainty was of “great concern.”

“Erik needs to know what resources he has to spend so he can make the signings the club needs, and the whole management resources of the club need to be focused on supporting him in that,” MUST said in a statement. “That cannot be the case with the future ownership so unclear.”

United’s American owners announced last November that they would consider selling the club as they explored “strategic alternatives.”

That appeared to pave the way for their departure after years of resisting supporters’ attempts to drive them out.

Based on the public bids, Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe appear to be the leading contenders, with the Raine Group merchant bank handling the process.

But there is increasing frustration as the wait for a new owner goes on.

“Shoddy way to run a sale process. They need to get out by end of May to allow the new owner a fighting chance to impact the next transfer window and get moving!” former United captain and now TV pundit Gary Neville tweeted this week.

United declined to comment on MUST’s statement. In Thursday’s Europa League quarterfinals first leg against Sevilla at Old Trafford, United fans continued to voice their frustration, chanting “We want Glazers out” after Marcel Sabitzer scored early in the first half.

Sheikh Jassim is the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank and is son of a former prime minister.

He has promised to rid the club of debt, invest in the stadium, training center and playing squads in a bid to “return the club to its former glories both on and off the pitch.”

Ratcliffe is the owner of petrochemicals giant INEOS and is one of Britain’s richest people. He was born in Failsworth, Greater Manchester and says he is focused on United winning the Champions League and becoming the “number one club in the world once again.”

Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus said Wednesday that he was no longer interested.

Any new owner is also likely to have to spend in the region of $1 billion to redevelop or rebuild United’s Old Trafford stadium.

“We are in dire need of new investment, which undoubtedly requires new ownership,” the supporters trust said. “Along with United fans all around the world, (we) are calling for this process to be concluded without further delay.”

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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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