Sheikh Jassim gives Manchester United ultimatum to accept latest bid by Friday

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani submitted a take-it-or-leave-it improved fifth and final offer of no more than £6bn to buy Manchester United this week, with the Qatari banker determined to disengage with the sale process on Friday if it is not accepted.

Sheikh Jassim and his advisers have become frustrated with the drawn-out process overseen by the Glazers, who put the club on the market in November. The Guardian has been told this has moved him to decide that Friday is the cut-off point for any further engagement, the implication being that if the bid is not accepted he will walk away. Sources close to Sheikh Jassim describe it as crunch time.

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Sheikh Jassim is also conscious that if he is to become the owner it should be as soon as possible to offer Erik ten Hag the optimum time to strengthen his squad in the transfer market.

Given the protracted nature of the process, which includes extended deadlines, it is unclear whether Sheikh Jassim would end his interest should his self-imposed Friday deadline not be heeded. In line with his previous offers the latest one is for 100% of the club.

One possibility is that he fears losing out to Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the only other publicly declared bidder who wishes to purchase a controlling interest in United, and so the improved offer is a last attempt to become proprietor. Ratcliffe, the Ineos owner, wants to acquire about 51% of United and potentially leave one or more of the Glazers with a minority share. Ineos has reportedly been in talks with the Glazers over the structure of such an agreement but it is understood the company does not believe a deal is imminent.

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The Sheikh believes that because his offer would erase a debt of about £1bn, is in cash, offers a separate fund for player, infrastructure and other investment requirements and gives a high value for each share, it is the better option.