Manchester United have enjoyed something of a renaissance under highly-rated Dutch head coach Erik ten Hag in season 2022/23. The Red Devils finally look to be moving in the right direction after almost a decade of mediocrity.
In that decade, they have mounted challenges for the Premier League title but never really looked like becoming English champions. The club’s owners, the Glazer family, have come in for heavy supporter criticism for a perceived lack of investment to aid the team’s efforts on the pitch.
In November, though, the Glazers revealed that they are looking to sell the club. Reportedly, they are hoping to sell United for around £6b, although whether any buyer is willing to reach that valuation is unclear.
Competition for the club
The owners have employed the Raine Group, which is an investment bank that is marketing the sale of the club. Raine has reportedly asked for official bids to be made by the end of next week, which would mean that a change of United’s ownership could be relatively close.
There are believed to be four interested parties in buying the club. Amongst those interested in buying the Red Devils is Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who has hired JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs in an advisory role.
This a familiar story for Radcliffe, though, as he has not only been linked with a bid for United in the past, but he was also interested in buying Chelsea before Todd Boehly’s consortium acquired the Blues.
With a fortune reported to be around £13.3bn, he certainly has the financial muscle to buy the club from Manchester.
However, Radcliffe faces stiff competition from Qatari, US and Saudi Arabian parties. The Daily Mail claims that a private wealth fund from Qatar has already held talks to buy United and that they are confident that they have more than enough financial power to win the battle to buy the Red Devils.
The group is separate from PSG’s ownership, the Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), which is crucial as it is written in UEFA rules that two clubs in their organisation cannot be in the ownership of one person or group.
It seems unclear if the interest from the USA or Saudi Arabia will materialise. If it does, then it may lead to a bidding war, which is only good for the Glazier family. However, currently, Radcliffe and the Qatari group are the most realistic likely next owners of Manchester United.
Could a takeover mean significant team investment?
Manchester United fans will no doubt be glad to see the back of the Glazers, who, in their eyes, have only ever taken from the club rather than invested in the future of the team. It is hard to argue with that fact.
The Red Devils fans will hope that any new ownership group will come in and invest heavily in their team. Most football club owners don’t buy them to make a profit, as it is very difficult to make a profit out of most clubs in the modern game.
In the last few decades, wealthy owners at the likes of Chelsea, PSG and Manchester City have transformed their club’s fortunes, on and off the pitch. The trio have become significant players in the European game courtesy of their wealthy owners.
Wealthier owners mean that the club brings in better players and the team progresses, something United has struggled to do under the current ownership.
Some clubs, like United’s neighbours City, have also got themselves into hot water due to financial irregularities, so any prospective United owner would have to be careful about how they invest in the club and stay within the financial guidelines set by both the Premier League and UEFA.
United are playing catch up with neighbours City
Whatever punishment City receives for their alleged financial missteps, Manchester United are still playing catch up when it comes to recent success. The Citizens’ form may have dropped slightly this season, but United are still behind Pep Guardiola’s team on the pitch.
It will be tough for Manchester United to compete with their rivals under the current regime and Arsenal, who are currently top of the table thanks to brilliant recruitment and excellent coaching.
New wealthy owners at United would even the playing field to their neighbours, especially with a dark cloud hanging over City’s finances. Erik ten Hag has done an admirable job at the club in his first few months.
However, it seems unlikely that the Dutchman will turn down the opportunity to add some quality players to his first-team squad in the summer. If United can add quality to their squad in the next transfer window, then they can return to the top of the English and European football tree.