This weekend’s “leaked” story that the Glazer family have decided not to sell Manchester United is looking more and more like a hoax.
The Mail reported that a source close to the American moguls said they had decided to retain ownership of the club until at least 2025, when they believe market conditions could be more conducive to them receiving their desired asking price for the club.
That price, the article said, is $7-10 billion, which is between $1bn and $4bn more than the $6bn reportedly bid by Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad al Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
The club’s value according to the New York Stock Exchange is currently $3.86bn.
The news sent shock waves of disappointment throughout the club’s fandom, with the majority of supporters being desperate to see the back of owners that have plunged the club into debt and in 18 years failed to invest in the infrastructure and put commercial profit ahead of football success.
However, this evening, Sky via The Manchester Evening News claims that the report of the non-sale may not, in fact, be true.
“According to Sky, both Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe are under the impression the takeover is still going ahead,” The MEN reports.
“What is more the Raine Group, who are overseeing the sale, have not been informed of any change to status of the club.”
The second statement is particularly encouraging as it implies inside knowledge from Raine, who, acting for the Glazers, would surely know if a decision had been made.
The recent transfer window offered a strong indication that, as Gary Neville says, the Glazers have run out of money. Their credit lines for the club are known to be nearing exhaustion so it would be almost impossible for them to keep the club afloat much longer without at least minority investment or refinancing of some sort.
If the story is not true, the most likely explanation for how it came about would be that it was “leaked” deliberately by the Glazers to try to panic Sheikh Jassim or Sir Jim into increasing their offer.
A long silence from the Glazers may have been an attempt to weaken the resolve of the buyers, who have stuck at that $6bn upper limit.
It seems unlikely that this tactic will work, particularly now if a potentially genuine leak, this time from Raine, indicates that the sale is still very much on.