MANCHESTER UNITED’S takeover battle was plunged into chaos following a late change to Wednesday’s 9pm deadline.
Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani initially made an improved world record offer of around £5billion to buy the Premier League giants from the Glazer family.
But he WITHDREW that after deal organisers and US financiers Raine Group later extended the deadline by 48 hours and is now planning a revised offer.
Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe was also ready to submit his offer – also around £5bn – before 9pm, but delayed it after Raine’s extension.
Raine have now indicated there could be as many as EIGHT bids by the new deadline of 9pm Friday.
Only one of those, US hedge fund Elliott Management, has declared itself, while the Qatari sheikh and the British knight are still the leading contenders.
Their latest bids will smash the record £3.75bn fee for the Denver Broncos, when the NFL franchise was sold last summer.
But it remains to be seen if either offer will persuade the Glazers – who have set a £6bn valuation – to sell up.
Unlike Ratcliffe’s Ineos petro-chemicals group, who want to buy out the Glazers’ 69 per cent share, and Sheikh Jassim – who envisages a full takeover – Elliott are merely seeking to forward funds to potential bidders.
It is possible other interested parties are also seeking to provide funding, rather than actually take over the club.
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But giving bidders an extra 48 hours suggests Raine believe there are genuine options open to them.
However, the two main bidders are understood to still harbour doubts over whether the Glazers will sell unless their whopping valuation is met.
United’s share price on the New York Stock Exchange rose more than four per cent in early trading yesterday to reach a “market capitalisation” of £3.33bn.
As Sunsport revealed earlier this month, one option for the Glazers is use external funding to help to hive off the club’s commercial and merchandising arm into another branch of the club or simply take United off the market.