Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani's bid for 100 percent control of the club comes with promises to wipe United's $620 million debt, while Jim Ratcliffe's bid for 69 percent stake focuses on "winning things."

One of the oldest clubs in the world, Manchester United are the most successful English team and one of the best in the European level.
One of the oldest clubs in the world, Manchester United are the most successful English team and one of the best in the European level. (AP Archive)

The battle to buy Manchester United football club has heated up as Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe prepared to raise bids for the 20-time English champions.

Both parties were expected to increase their initial offers on Wednesday after the submission deadline of 2100 GMT was extended by merchant bank Raine, which is assisting with the sale of the club, following confusion over the timing, the BBC reported.

Sky Sports also reported that Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe had been granted extensions to submit fresh bids.

According to the BBC, the new deadline for offers has not been made clear.

United's owners, the Glazer family, have reportedly set a world record $7.3 billion valuation for a sports club.

Sheikh Jassim's bid for 100 percent control of the club promises to wipe United's $620 million debt and invest in a new stadium and training ground, in addition to backing for the men's and women's teams.

A source close to Sheikh Jassim's bid told the AFP news agency he remains confident his bid is "the best for the club, fans and local community."

READ MORE: Manchester United Trust seeks 'real investment' as Ratcliffe shows interest

'Stupid price'

INEOS chemical company founder Ratcliffe, a boyhood United fan, has been more circumspect in his assessment, insisting he will not pay a "stupid" price in a bidding war for one of football's most iconic clubs.

"How do you decide the price of a painting? How do you decide the price of a house? It's not related to how much it cost to build or how much it cost to paint," Ratcliffe told the Wall Street Journal this week.

"What you don't want to do is pay stupid prices for things because then you regret it subsequently."

Ratcliffe, who wants the 69 percent stake owned by the Glazer family, said his interest in United would be "purely in winning things", calling the club a "community asset".

Deeply unpopular with supporters since they saddled the club with debt in a £790 million leveraged takeover in 2005, the Glazers appeared ready to cash out at an enormous profit when they invited external investment in November.

However, they could shun the option of selling a controlling stake in the club, with other parties interested in a minority shareholding.

The initial offers from the first round of bidding last month were believed to have been worth around £4.5 billion.

Bidders are expected to hear from United next week, with another round of bidding still in play.

If one bid is vastly ahead of the others, it could be chosen to enter into a period of exclusivity, which would allow further negotiation ahead of a final sale.

Qatar eyes Premier League status

Ratcliffe visited Old Trafford last Friday along with INEOS representatives, a day after a delegation from Sheikh Jassim's group toured the club's stadium and training ground to hold more talks as part of their due diligence.

Just months after hosting the 2022 World Cup, a successful Qatari bid would give the Gulf state pride of place in the Premier League — the world's most-watched domestic competition.

But it would also be controversial.

Sheikh Jassim is the son of former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, and his close links to the gulf state's ruling elite would raise questions over another Premier League club becoming a state-backed project.

Premier League champions Manchester City's fortunes have been transformed since a takeover from Sheikh Mansour, a member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family in 2008.

In 2021, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund bought a controlling stake in Newcastle.

Amnesty International has called on the Premier League to tighten ownership rules to ensure they are "not an opportunity for more sports washing."

One of the oldest clubs in the world, Manchester United are the most successful English team in England and one of the best in the European level.

Founded in 1878, The Red Devils won the English Premier League 20 times, one title ahead of its closest follower and main rival, Liverpool, and seven titles ahead of Arsenal, in addition to three UEFA Champions League titles.

United's stadium, Old Trafford, also known as the Theatre of Dreams, has always been a feared destination for other clubs, but that image has been washed away in recent years by other giants, including the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.

Manchester United's last league title win was in 2013 under legendary coach Alex Ferguson.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies