Manchester United’s potential new owners and January transfer stance

Manchester United’s potential new owners and January transfer stance

Updated: 2 months, 5 days, 6 hours, 46 minutes, 29 seconds ago

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It’s been quite a 24 hours for Manchester United fans. Not long after Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit from the club was confirmed, news broke that the Glazers were seeking options about a potential sale.

And, after lengthy and persistent protests over the past 17 years, it’s this that United fans are talking about the most. The two names currently in the picture for a potential takeover are Ineos billionaire chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe and former Goldman Sachs boss Lord Jim O'Neill.

Ratcliffe - who owns French outfit Nice - could reportedly be set to bid for the club, which the Glazers valuing at around £5billion after buying the Reds for £790m in 2005. However, it’s not the only topic supporters are taking a keen interest in.

READ MORE: Exclusive: United open to signing forward to offset Cristiano Ronaldo exit

Amid Ronaldo’s exit, United are left scarcely thin in the striker department. Fans are keen to know whether the club are targeting a forward in January as a result.

On Wednesday, MEN Sport's senior United writer, Tyrone Marshall, hosted a Q&A in an attempt to try and answer some of the questions regarding both subjects.

Is Jim Ratcliffe in pole position to buy the club?

Tyrone: To be honest, I'm not sure anyone is in pole position at the moment, it's still very early in the process. I spoke to people close to Ratcliffe this morning and got 'no comment' back, so certainly not ruling a bid out.

In October he said he would have bid for United had they been on the market in the summer. We believe now the Glazers were seeking minority investment at that point.

Ratcliffe has often made it clear he would like to bid for United, but there's also been a suspicion recently that he's turned his attentions entirely to Nice, the French club owned by Ineos. The attraction of owning his boyhood club might be too much to walk away from, however.

Which forward is most likely to come to United in January?

TM: What's Odion Ighalo up to these days? In all seriousness, it's a very difficult transfer to get right. If someone like Victor Osimhen is a realistic long-term target, it's just impossible to sign a player like that in January, especially when Napoli are doing so well.

At the same time, you don't want to spend £40million and make a move for Osimhen impossible in the summer. A short-term option is ideal, which is why someone like Memphis Depay has been floated.

He's available and could still make an impact. But that's more guesswork than a realistic, definitive target at the moment

Would a Middle Eastern investment fund like Dubai be willing to bid for Man United?

TM: I'm sure that is a possibility, United has always been the biggest attraction for states looking to own clubs. The issue is Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia have all got ownership of clubs now.

Dubai has never really chased that strategy, but there is obvious kudos involved in owning Manchester United and the investment fund there has been linked with interest before.

How long would a sale take from the point where a bid was accepted?

TM: This is very, very difficult to say. Chelsea happened relatively quickly, but that was for obvious reasons. It feels unlikely there will be a quick resolution to this.

Look at Liverpool for example, FSG confirmed they were selling two weeks ago and there's been no suggestion since that anything is close to happening. The Glazers might also want to look at all investment options before considering a full sale.

Are Glazers really trying to sell the club or trying to find a minority investor? If Glazers are looking for the complete sale of the club, then how long it would take?

TM: From what I've heard, they've been looking for investment for a while and are now open to a full sale, so maybe haven't had the same level of interest they expected.

If someone comes and offers minority investment, that could help fund redevelopments at Carrington and Old Trafford for example, that might be appealing, but I think there is a feeling now that this really is them being open to a sale.

If new owners come in there will inevitably be things they want to change, but that doesn't mean a takeover would happen quickly. A £5bn transaction (or whatever it may end up being) doesn't just get signed off in the space of a week.

Chelsea were put for sale at the start of March and that was completed at the end of May. That is, realistically, as quickly as these kind of takeovers can go through.

Do we not have to be careful what we wish for? I cannot see a responsible businessman like Sir Jim Ratcliffe sanctioning the purchase of Antony for 45m over valuation. Will any other owner authorise the expenditure the Glazers allowed?

TM: The point you're missing is that he's not using his own money to buy Antony, just like the Glazers didn't use their own money to buy anyone this summer. They have run the club sustainably but taken money out in dividends.

Someone like Ratcliffe, for example, could run it sustainably and not take money out. United's spending under the Glazers has been big, but it's been spent dreadfully, because they've not made sensible decisions.

After the previous nine years I'd have thought you'd have seen now that spending on transfers and wages doesn't automatically equal success.

Every penny the club spends affects the dividends they receive, they are running a business as well as United, but the business isn't successful if it doesn't perform on the pitch, and for that players are required.

We need owners with the club in its heart… how likely is that?

TM: In all honesty, pretty unlikely. Jim Ratcliffe or Lord Jim O'Neill, from the Red Knights, are probably the only two options with the club in their heart.

If United is sold to American investors or a state-backed investment fund, then they will be in for either the profit or the reflected glory, not because of a love for United.

The danger of football clubs being worth £5bn is that it limits the people who can buy them and their motivations become much more complicated. The days of fan ownership are over.