The football world stopped when the Man United takeover news became public. “GlazersOut” has been a trend ever since the Glazer family completed an ethically questionable, leveraged takeover of the club. So, when the family announced they were exploring “new investment”, and are open to a sale, there was widespread euphoria in the fanbase. However, as is the case in any deal of this magnitude, things have moved slowly.
From November 22, when Glazers’ bombshell announcement regarding Manchester United’s sale dropped, to this day, there has been a game of poker played out in the media. Goalposts have shifted constantly, updates and non-updates have filled the pages, bidders have come and gone, and the Glazers refuse to provide any clarity.
Club statement on a process to explore strategic options for Manchester United.#MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 22, 2022
We seek to put the whole saga so far in perspective with a detailed timeline of Man United takeover news.
November 22, 2022- The Glazers confirm they’re open to a sale
If/when the takeover goes through, November 22, 2022 will go down as a historic date in Red Devils‘ vast history. Just like June 2005 is etched in fans’ minds as the cursed month when Glazers took full control, November 22, 2022 will be the potion to that date.
In a short statement posted on the club website, the Glazer family announced that the Company’s Board of Directors is “commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club, including new investment, a sale, or other transactions”.
At the time, the prospect of a full sale was the dream scenario, which looks increasingly likely now.
February 17, 2023- Soft deadline for bids, two go public
After nearly three months of posturing, with many people wanting public attention, or wanting to be associated with a sale of this size being filtered out, two bids for the club became public. Hence began the process of Man United takeover.
Boyhood United fan Sir Jim Ratcliffe submitted a bid for majority ownership of the club. Also the owner of OGC Nice, his bid was celebrated by many as the antithesis of everything the Glazers stood for. However, he was not going to have an easy time of it.
Out of the blue, the son of former Qatar PM Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, Sheikh Jassim announced he had submitted a bid for 100% ownership of the club. Thus began a game of poker, played out in the public.
Another player entered the very next day as Elliott Management, former owners of AC Milan, submitted a proposal for minority investment in the club, along with proposing to finance bids of interested parties.
February 28, 2023- First obstacle in Man United takeover news cycle
As the fans dreamt of new owners, and a debt-free club, old fears returned. The Glazer family valued the club at more than £6 billion and were in no mood to come down from that price. Consequently, bids by both, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim were turned down. As a result, fan anxiety grew due to emerging reports that Glazers might not agree on full sale of the club.
However, this soon gave way to a sigh of relief as the next round of the bidding process began.
March 5, 2023- Second round begins, with an unnamed third bidder
Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe made it to the second round where they would get access to the club’s financials and records before making their next bid. It was later confirmed that Elliott Management also made it through with their financing offer.
Fans now waited with bated breath for the visit of the two public bidders, as well as knowing the identity of other private bidders, if they existed at all. The game of optics had begun.
March 16, 2023- Qatari delegation visits
Although Sheikh Jassim didn’t visit the club himself, his delegation from Qatar spent almost a day at the club, sifting through financials and the club’s condition. The meeting was widely reported as being fruitful. It proved to be true as Sheikh Jassim would eventually go higher with this bid in the second round.
March 17, 2023- Sir Jim visits
The image of the whole process so far came through as Richard Arnold, a current executive at the club, met Sir Jim Ratcliffe himself in the backdrop of Old Trafford. The CEO of INEOS also had a productive meeting with the club officials, resulting in a second bid to rival Sheikh Jassim’s offer.
NEW | 1st pictures of British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe arrives at Old Trafford with Ineos delegation to be met by Manchester United chief exec Richard Arnold for talks over potential takeover #ManUtd #ineos ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/XzxYFobbWJ
— Dan Roan (@danroan) March 17, 2023
March 22, 2023- deadline for the second round, with a twist
9 PM GMT on March 22, 2023, was set as the deadline for the second round of bids. However, there were more twists to come.
No bids arrived by this date and the deadline was eventually extended by a day. The game of saving face began again. While the Qatari side claimed they were ready for the bid and it was Sir Jim who asked for more time, reports went as far as to say that Glazers might not sell at all.
Later, reports confirmed INEOS and Sheikh Jassim did intend to put in second bids. Sheikh Jassim’s bid is being reported closer to Glazers’ valuation of £6 billion. INEOS, on the other hand, is keeping their cards close to their chest.
INEOS group spokesperson: “Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS can confirm we have submitted a revised bid” 🚨🔴 #MUFC
Sheikh Jassim’s Qatari group, preparing their final bid too. pic.twitter.com/9Yix5mNhto
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) March 23, 2023
One thing is clear, the bidding process is far from over. There are a lot of twists and turns sure to arrive soon. The whole Man United takeover news cycle has been a fascinating affair of posturing and shows no signs of slowing down soon. For Man United fans, they’d just be hoping that whatever road this leads the club on, trophies are at the end of it.