Man United takeover meetings seek to bridge gap in valuations

Manchester United have focused on explaining the Glazer family’s valuation of the club as they meet potential buyers and investors after being underwhelmed by the opening expressions of interest, sources have told ESPN.

United are making presentations to representatives of Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who have both indicated they are keen for a full takeover at Old Trafford.

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Indicative offers made ahead of Raine Group’s soft deadline fell below the Glazer’s valuation of around £6 billion but meetings with potential buyers have sought to explain how they have arrived at that price — particularly highlighting the club’s global fanbase in comparison to Premier League rivals Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Sources close to Sheikh Jassim have indicated he will not overpay for the club because of a belief it will take heavy investment to upgrade Old Trafford and the Carrington training base, as well as building a team capable of consistently challenging in the Premier League and Champions League.

The consortium led by Ratcliffe, chairman and CEO of chemical company INEOS, also value United at below £6bn.

After the second stage of the process, which could conclude by the end of the week, interested parties will be asked to submit revised bids.

Sources close to the process have told ESPN that Raine have prioritised consortiums interested in full takeovers but meetings have also been held with groups only interested in smaller investments.

Elliott Investment Management are among the U.S.-based hedge funds to make it through to the second stage of the process with representatives attending the Europa League tie against Real Betis last week.

Elliott do not want to buy the club but they are offering investment, either to outside bidders or to the Glazer family if they decide to stay on as owners.

Sources have told ESPN that the Glazer family, who have owned United since 2005, are keeping their options open.

They released a statement in November to announce they were looking at “strategic alternatives,” which could include a full sale or accepting outside investment.

Sources have told ESPN that club staff have been told there should be “clarity” on the ownership situation before the end of the season.

Meanwhile, United are expecting to be without Alejandro Garnacho for several weeks after he suffered an ankle injury in the 0-0 draw with Southampton on Sunday.

Garnacho left Old Trafford on crutches and wearing a protective boot. Sources have told ESPN that the forward suffered an ankle ligament injury. He is still being assessed by club medical staff but he has already withdrawn from the Argentina squad ahead of their upcoming internationals.