November 28, 2023

Why Man Utd fans should demand better than a seven-month takeover saga

Why Man Utd fans should demand better than a seven-month takeover saga

Why Man Utd fans should demand better than a seven-month takeover saga

Remember, this is the club whose notorious lack of urgency once resulted in Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor having the most difficult job in football ‘eased’ by the late addition of Marouane Fellaini and Marouane Fellaini alone.

How vehemently would Old Trafford’s guardians protest the allegation that they have always prioritized what is best for the Glazers over what is best for Manchester United? I’d wager on a lack of enthusiasm.

It should come as no surprise that United’s future remains uncertain even as the most crucial summer approaches.

There is no tangible benefit to the players, management, and fans – you know, the people who actually matter – for this process to drag on for more than seven months, when the only two legitimate candidates for new ownership have been willing from the very beginning.

These months have been marked by a lack of transparency; a vacuum of information has inevitably been filled with speculation and, this week, disinformation.

Tuesday morning, United’s share price on the New York Stock Exchange jumped 16% in response to an apparent agreement to sell the entire club to Sheikh Jassim and his Nine Two Foundation.

As it turns out, the origin of the rumor was traced back to a Cardiff-based Twitter account that had been amplified by a Qatari publication.

It would be naive to believe that the proposed sale of Manchester United would not always be the subject of intense speculation and endless teaser headlines.

However, when the lack of clarity surrounding the process reaches the point where the club’s stock price is actively influenced by social media mischief, it may be time to ask what is going on.

Nobody expected the Glazers to ask prospective bidders to idly tap their credit cards – maybe even enter their PINs for security, since there’s a few pounds at stake – and end this saga, but it’s been well over half a year and it’s still unclear what United’s owners want from this.

Negotiations necessitate a degree of secrecy, but the entire situation has been a guessing game for all parties.


Since announcing in November 2022 that they would “begin a process to explore strategic alternatives” for the club, the Glazers have remained virtually silent.

There have been sporadic off-the-record briefings, including a statement in an early report that the club was not necessarily seeking the highest price but rather the best possible outcome.

Why then did they ask Nasser Al-Khelaifi, president of Paris Saint-Germain and Qatar Sports Investments, to speak with Sheik Jassim about increasing his offer?

The lack of information and excruciatingly sluggish tempo of progress have spawned a variety of theories and contributed to the entrenchment of fan positions.

One theory suggests that the Glazers are using Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS group as a’stalking horse’ to extract the highest possible offer from Sheikh Jassim.

They will understand that Ratcliffe, as obscenely affluent as he is, has a limit that does not necessarily apply to his Qatari competitor.

However, they are also aware that naming Sheik Jassim as the preferred bidder would raise awkward concerns about Qatari state influence in the process, which has been vehemently denied.

In either case, it would likely result in a longer transaction and increased unwanted scrutiny.

It has also been suggested that the Glazers have no intention of selling Old Trafford and are more interested in securing increased investment for its redevelopment.

It has long been one of the primary examples United supporters have used to demonstrate the Glazers’ alleged lack of care for the club; that their once-premier stadium has fallen far behind the current best-in-class venues.

Why would the Glazers need to sell if they could make more money in the long term by maintaining Old Trafford and not selling?

If you’re getting speculative vibes from some of the above, you’re probably correct, but that’s because there are so many more questions than answers surrounding this situation, even at this late date.

What do the Glazers truly desire? How resistant would Premier League competitors be to a Sheikh Jassim takeover? What would happen to United’s still-astronomical debt if a comprehensive sale does not occur?

United supporters are in the center of all of this activity. Admittedly, some have not exactly adorned themselves with glory by dismissing or neglecting Qatar’s human rights record, which was the basis for coverage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

In general, however, the club’s supporters certainly deserve better than to be kept in the dark for seven months regarding the club’s potential future.

Given the mess he inherited, Erik ten Hag’s first season in command was significantly more successful than anticipated.

The Dutch manager has a squad to shape in the upcoming transfer window, which is arguably the most significant in years given the current signs of recovery.

With Manchester City continuing to dominate, Arsenal re-emerging as a force, Newcastle United gaining strength, and Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham all regrouping, United cannot afford not to significantly strengthen.

As is typical for this time of year, the rumor mill is in overdrive, and United are being linked to a multitude of players, which has fans thrilled.

Until these transactions are finalized, however, there will be residual concerns that the current takeover limbo will dampen summer spending.

Even without a protracted takeover process with no conclusion in sight, United have rarely been effective at this time of year.

There has been speculation that the process has entered its ‘final phases,’ but is there anyone who doesn’t take this with a grain of salt? As loosely as feasible, the term ‘deadline’ was used.

The final bids have not been truly final proposals. Until the next deadline, which may or may not be a deadline, and until the next final, final, final proposal, the smoke and mirrors will continue via various media sources. Iterate and repeat.

Why Man Utd fans should demand better than a seven-month takeover saga

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