Sheikh Jassim may have a big advantage over Sir Jim Ratcliffe (Picture: Getty)
Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani may have the upper hand in the race to buy Manchester United, with the Qatari bid having discussed the possibility of offering an NFL sweetener, according to reports.
Early on Saturday morning, it was finally confirmed that Sheikh Jassim had submitted a fresh, improved offer to buy the Red Devils after lodging his proposal overnight.
Both the Qatari bid and that of their main rival, INEOS founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe, had been granted additional time by Raine Group – who are marketing the sale – and the Glazers will now evaluate all the offers they have received from the second round of bidding over the coming week.
The bid from Sheikh Jassim is believed to be in the region of £5billion, which would make it a world-record takeover for a sports team.
That is still someway short of the Glazers’ valuation, however, with the family having been expecting a minimum of £6bn – with some reports even claiming they felt they could get as much as £8bn.
But The Sun report that Sheikh Jassim has something of an ace up his sleeve and is set to offer the Glazer family a sweetener in an effort to convince them to sell to him.
Sheikh Jassim did not personally visit Manchester last week for talks but sent a delegation to represent him, with the possibility of a joint venture relating to the Glazer family’s NFL enterprise a topic of discussion.
The Glazers took the Buccaneers to Germany in November (Picture: Getty)
The Glazers also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a partnership could be explored that sees NFL games played in the Middle East.
The NFL has long been looking to expand outside of the United States – hosting several matches in London each season – and now Sheikh Jassim thinks buying the Red Devils could also kick-start a relationship with both the Buccaneers and the NFL.
According to the report, Sheikh Jassim has been ‘impressed with the Glazers’ and would like to work with them in the future.
Part of his proposal to the family would see the Buccaneers travel to Qatar for an exhibition game in the national stadium in Doha, and there is a feeling it would both cement the country’s status as a destination for massive sporting events as well as being incredibly lucrative for all involved.
Whether the prospect of a money-spinning NFL match in Doha convinces the Glazers to sell is another matter, with some bidders fearing the process has been used to sound out investors rather than make a full sale of the club.
Some bids, such as that from US hedge fund Elliott Management, are only offering a minority stake but that could then be used to finance upgrades to Old Trafford and Carrington as well as summer signings.
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Will this sway the Glazers into selling up?