A leading Qatari news outlet claims that the Glazers will sign a purchase contract with Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani “within the next few hours”.
The Qatari banker and head of the Nine-Two foundation was believed to be winning the race to buy Manchester United after having lodged a bid to buy the club in its entirety for a fee of over £5 billion.
Raya.com claims that “It is expected that the Manchester United purchase contract will be signed by the Glazer family that owns the club within the next few hours, after the Qatari group entered into a bid to buy the club against the offer.
“Those in the circle close to the Qatari [bidder] have now begun to express their confidence in the victory, and they believe that it is only a matter of time before the official announcement is made.
If the report is true, it will represent a seismic change in the history of one of the world’s biggest football clubs. It has not yet been confirmed by Al Sharq and Al Watan, which are generally considered to be the two most reliable Qatari papers.
Eighteen years of Glazer ownership has brought little to nothing in terms of investment off the pitch or success on it, particularly after the great Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
The Glazers announced they were “seeking strategic alternatives” for the club’s financing back in November, meaning that they were looking into either a full or partial sale or into refinancing, loans or investment.
Initially it was expected that the process would be completed by the end of March, but the Raine Group, who have been handling the process on the Glazers’ behalf, have turned the process into a dog and pony show.
Three rounds of bidding were organised, after which further delays were piled one on top of the other.
Rumours have circulated that the Glazers were divided on the issue, with some, notably Joel and Avram Glazer, wanting to retain a stake in the club, while others wanted to cash in on what would be a world record price for a sport venture.
If a decision finally has been made, it will be a welcome relief to the millions of fans who have been protesting Glazer ownership for many years after they plunged the club into debt by borrowing against it to buy it back in 2005.
It will also come as a relief to manager Erik ten Hag, whose summer transfer window has been hamstrung by the lack of clarity as to who will make the decisions and what the budget will be for acquisitions.