Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani is emerging as the favourite to buy Manchester United ahead of Sir Jim Ratcliffe, with each party due to hold its first face-to-face meeting with the club executive this week.
Representatives of Thani, a Qatari banker who is seeking to purchase United via his Nine Two Foundation, are expected to meet the hierarchy in Manchester on Thursday. It is understood Thani is the favoured bidder of the Glazers due, in part, to his potential to open up business opportunities in his region to the American owners.
There is also a sense that the Glazers have not yet warmed to Ratcliffe, the owner of Ineos, who is Britain’s richest person and is due to be at United on Friday along with advisers. He plans to travel after watching his club Nice play in the Europa Conference League on Thursday at home to Sheriff tonight.
Thani is intent on buying 100% of United without taking on any debt, while Ratcliffe is thought to want only the Glazers’ 69% share, perhaps using investment. It is understood there are a number of other, not yet publicly declared, groups interested in a deal
Elliott Investment Management, a US fund, does not want to buy the club but is ready to offer finance to a buyer. Representatives of Elliott were at Old Trafford last Thursday for the Europa League last-16 first-leg win against Real Betis for the first face-to-face meeting regarding the sale.
Uefa’s president, Aleksander Ceferin, has said rules forbidding clubs with the same owners from playing in the same European competition could be dropped. Ineos owns Nice and Lausanne, and Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) owns Paris Saint-Germain. Thani says he is independent of QSI.