Manchester United owners the Glazer family are considering delaying a decision about whether to sell the club until after the end of the season, sources have told ESPN.
INEOS, led by British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, and Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim have lodged bids to buy United with merchant bank Raine Group.
The Glazers are also considering offers of minority investment from a number of U.S.-based investment groups.
The club’s American owners announced in November that they were looking into “strategic alternatives,” including a full sale or accepting outside investment.
Staff were told in March to expect “clarity” on the ownership situation by the end of the campaign at the latest but sources have told ESPN that there are now concerns the Glazers are delaying a decision until after the end of the season.
United end their Premier League campaign against Fulham at Old Trafford on May 28 before facing Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley on June 3.
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Manager Erik ten Hag is hoping for a successful summer transfer window after a positive first season in charge but that would be complicated by ongoing uncertainty over the club’s ownership.
One of the reasons for the delay, according to one source, is that the Glazers are still trying to come to an agreement about their future with United, particularly because Joel and Avram Glazer are reluctant to give up their stake.
Ratcliffe has floated the idea of allowing Joel and Avram Glazer to remain as shareholders while taking control himself. Sheikh Jassim, who lodged an improved fourth bid last week, is offering to buy 100% of the club. The next stage of the process would be for Raine to name a preferred bidder.
The Glazers staying on in any capacity risks triggering more supporter protests.
An anti-Glazer demonstration in May 2021 caused United’s Premier League fixture with Liverpool to be postponed after some fans made their way onto the pitch and into the dressing rooms.
The latest protest last month saw more than a thousand fans march from Manchester city centre to Old Trafford ahead of the home game against Aston Villa.