Manchester United are now in more than £1billion of debt, with the club's future under the Glazers still shrouded in uncertainty.
Having been put up for sale in November 2022, United are yet to find a buyer or decide on new investment at Old Trafford. British petrochemical mogul Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani have long been the frontrunners for a takeover but are yet to meet the Glazers' rumoured £6billion asking price.
The American family are now considering taking the Red Devils off the market altogether, angering supporters who are demanding that they end their unpopular 18-year reign as soon as possible. The issue of United's outstanding debt was a key talking point during takeover talks with potential buyers and now the Daily Mail claims that it's surpassed the £1bn threshold.
They report that United's third-quarter results show the club's debts have increased from £969million to £1.005bn this year. That's due to a combination of gross debt, bank borrowings and outstanding transfer fees, having splashed out nearly £200m on big-money signings this summer.
Amid suggestions that the Glazers are no longer keen to sell the Red Devils in the near future, the club's share price dropped by 18.2 per cent on Tuesday to £15.40, marking the biggest daily drop since they were listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012. Raine Group, however - the merchant bank tasked with overseeing United's sale - insists that the process remains ongoing.
What's also made any takeover bid more complicated is how the six Glazer siblings have diverging interests, according to the Sunday Times. They own 69 per cent of the club but control 95 per cent of voting rights via a dual-class share mechanism.
Executive co-chairman Joel Glazer boasts the biggest individual stake, controlling around 19 per cent. He's seen as the most hands-on member of the family by dedicating the majority of his working days to the Red Devils and getting involved in transfer business.
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Brother Avram, who's the other co-chairman, holds 14 per cent of the votes. Having appeared at three United matches last season - all cup finals at Wembley - as well as other global events, his role is viewed as more non-executive.
The other siblings - Bryan, Darcie, Edward and Kevin - are less involved in the club's affairs, with Darcie spending more time on the family's NFL team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Notably, the Bucs say on their website that Joel oversees their day-to-day operations.
Red Devils fans staged yet another anti-Glazer protest last month following their dramatic 3-2 comeback victory over Nottingham Forest, staying seated at Old Trafford for around an hour after full-time. United manager Erik ten Hag backed supporters' right to voice their opinion but hoped that it wouldn't cause a rift.
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"The fans are entitled to have that opinion. But you see also that the fans and the team has a very strong bond," Ten Hag explained after beating Forest. "Throughout my time here, that bond has got stronger and stronger - and today again it became even stronger.
"That magnificent comeback will help them support us. We get big support from them both away from home and at Old Trafford - and we have to keep strengthening that. It is very good to see the fight and the spirit between us.
"At United, we work with togetherness throughout the whole club. We have the same targets, we put 100 per cent effort in and the communication is good."
Image:Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Except it isn't, with the club offering no official update on the sale situation since the first statement on November 22 last year. Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim are still in the running but there are doubts over both of their bids.
The Red Devils hierarchy is even ready to form a special committee which would examine a firm proposal from either party, but there's been no requirement so far. It's understood that INEOS chief executive Ratcliffe's proposal to initially own 50 per cent of United and leave the Glazers with roughly a 20 per cent stake - which they'd eventually sell to INEOS - could present legal hurdles.
Minority investors holding the less powerful 'A' shares could sue should the Glazer family be paid a hefty premium for their more powerful 'B' shares, while the club's stock exchange filings state that those B shares will be automatically converted into A shares if the Americans sell them.
Sheikh Jassim's Qatari offer seems more clean-cut, as he's seeking 100 per cent ownership. However, he's yet to cough up the £6bn that the Glazers desire and the prospect of state-backed ownership could lead to regulatory hurdles and protests - as if United haven't had enough of them.
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