- Ratcliffe leading battle to buy United
- Glazers will keep stake in club
- Qatari final bid worth under £5bn
WHAT HAPPENED? Ratcliffe's main challengers throughout the protracted bidding process have been a consortium led by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB). However, after the former was identified as the Glazers' preferred bidder earlier this week, The Times now report that the current United owners are ready to discuss specifics.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: It is understood that Ratcliffe's offer for the club could reach as high as a world-record £6 billion. His consortium's willingness to allow the Glazer family to retain a stake in the football club is also thought to be key to his apparent success. But it is expected that the parts of United still owned by Joel and Avram Glazer will eventually be purchased by Ratcliffe over the next two to four years.
AND WHAT'S MORE: Sources close to the Qatari bid have indicated that they retain hope of completing a purchase. They could even submit an improved bid for the Red Devils to prevent Ratcliffe taking over. The Qatari's final offer came in at under £5bn and there has been little contact with the Raine Group - who are overseeing the sale - since the latest bid was made.
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WHAT NEXT? While the takeover process continues, United will maintain their fight for a top four finish in the Premier League when they face Wolves on Saturday.