Sir Jim Ratcliffe arrives at Old Trafford as Manchester United takeover battle gathers pace
Sir Jim Ratcliffe stepped up his Manchester United takeover bid with an enthusiastic appearance at Old Trafford as he attempts to win over the Glazers.
The British billionaire spoke to manager Erik ten Hag and was pictured being welcomed by chief executive Richard Arnold after flying in for talks.
He hopes his decision to appear in person gives him an edge on the rival Qatari bid as the sale process intensifies in the coming days. Telegraph Sport understands the last of eight days of meetings with interested parties takes place early next week. Second detailed bids will then be sent to New York brokers as soon as Wednesday.
The two leading candidates are understood to remain as determined as ever, leaving the Glazers optimistic their £5bn-plus asking price is now within reach. Every bidder is understood to have been told they will need to overpay on stock market values based on United's enterprise value.
Discussions between the club, Ratcliffe and his team were said to have gone well, with substantive discussions around United's business as well as the football side.
Offers tabled next week will remain indicative as proper due diligence will be required as candidates are whittled down again. Ratcliffe was flanked by his Ineos sporting team as he arrived the morning after the Qatari rival bid had also spent the day at the stadium and Carrington.
Sir David Brailsford – the former British Cycling chief who is now director of sport at Ineos – was also in attendance, with Ineos co-owners Andy Currie and John Reece.
Ineos Sport chair Rob Nevin and Jean Claude Blanc, who joined Ineos Sport as chief executive only last month, were also there to listen to presentations on "opportunities and challenges" at the club.
Ten Hag met Ratcliffe at the club’s training ground, but, ahead of the club's FA Cup quarter-final with Fulham on Sunday, the manager played down the significance of the meeting.
“I just met them, we shook hands,” said Ten Hag. “But I’m focused on the game.... Others at the club are dealing with potential investors.”
The stakes were high for Ratcliffe after Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani's delegation left Manchester optimistic about their takeover hopes. The rival pair have taken differing approaches in the delegations they are sending to meetings with brokers and the club. Sheikh Jassim did not attend in person.
The Qatari group in Manchester included Shahzad Shabaz, who is president of the newly-created NineTwo foundation, Fady Backhos, a senior personal advisor to the Sheikh, Sam Powers, a global head at Bank of America, Yasir Shah, managing director at Bank of America and lawyers from firm Macfarlanes.
As reported by Telegraph Sport on Wednesday, the two bidders are among eight groups in talks with United about the future ownership of the club. Some of the eight are interested in a full takeover while others are contemplating financing options.
United's director of football, John Murtough, is among the club delegation addressing interested parties. Insiders maintain that the process remains on track and a deal is within reach by the end of next month, despite fears elsewhere that the deadline could be extended.
Only the Qatari and Ineos bids have publicly disclosed their preference for a total buyout of the six Glazer siblings' controlling Class B shares. Sources with knowledge of the process say there are two other parties interested in buying the club in its entirety.