It’s officially deadline day for Manchester United’s prospective bidders and with multiple parties looking to take over the massive sporting franchise, it’s going to be an interesting few days ahead.
With current owners, the Glazer Family, valuing the club between at least £6-8 billion and now said to be looking for a full sale of the business as opposed to selling partial shares or welcoming new investors, it’ll simply be case a who puts forward the biggest offer.
The deadline for United‘s bidders is 10pm tonight. Here are the candidates said to be seriously considering a takeover.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Whoever is leading the race to take over the club is anyone’s guess but it’s fairly common knowledge that one of United’s longest-running suitors is British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and co-owner of INEOS — the chemical company who also owns French club OGC Nice.
Ratcliffe is a lifelong Red born in Failsworth who as well as being one of the richest men in Britain also already happens to own a sporting brand in Team Sky cycling, which he bought back in 2019, not mention owning shares in Mercedes F1. If anything, he is clearly a sporting man, at the very least.
The 70-year-old has enlisted a number of banks including Goldman Sachs to help fund his bid and while many were wary his need for additional financing resembled the leveraged buyout that saw the Glazers take control back in 2005, he is said to have assured he will not load United with any more debt.
Ratcliffe’s biggest rival is undoubtedly the Qatari consortium that is said to be heavily interested in buying Manchester United. Given the level of wealth behind those involved, significantly dwarfing the majority of other financial players, their package is widely considered the strongest of United’s bidders.
Although the amount of money clearly won’t be an issue (try a sovereign wealth fund of £368bn), its source and connection to the state looks to be the biggest sticking point.
It has been stated that Qatar Sports Investments, a.k.a. PSG’s billionaire owners, are not involved in the bid but the financing will have to be fully vetted. Regardless, UEFA are being urged to block the move to prevent further ‘sportswashing’ and the Emir of Qatar gaining unprecedented levels of power in football.
Despite having only recently acquired Newcastle United through the Public Investment Fund (the same sovereign wealth model Qatar are hoping to deploy), it has been reported that a rival bid from elsewhere in the Arabian Gulf could also challenge Qatar’s offer.
The nation were confirmed to have entered the race by The Telegraph early on Friday, literally hours before the deadline, having previously been rumoured to be in the market for Chelsea before Todd Boehly’s buyout too.
Saudi Arabia obviously share the same oil-based money origins as their Middle-Eastern neighbours and the national government has already said it would back bids from their private sector, but it would still present an odd prospect to see them invest in a direct rival so early into their Newcastle project.
The US — maybe even Elon Musk?
Perhaps the most uncertain prospects are located in the US, with various groups said to have expressed interest in trying to buy the club, though little detail is still known even at this advanced stage.
However, one very wealthy individual (i.e. the richest man in the world) is rumoured to be considering a bid in some capacity: Elon Musk. Yep.
Featured Image — Wikimedia Commons/Jason Wong (via Lookout Point)
Ben Foster reveals he’s being paid ‘literally peanuts’ to play for Wrexham AFC
We refuse to believe any UK football fan didn’t let out a little smile upon hearing the news that Ben Foster came out of retirement to re-sign for Wrexham AFC nearly 20 years on from his first spell.
The 39-year-old goalkeeper called time on his playing days at the end of last season after slowly moving towards becoming a squad player-come-YouTuber over the past few years and having already enjoyed a long and successful career.
However, following a nudge from the coach and celebrity owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, he was convinced to lace up his boots once more and the former United, Stoke, West Brom and Watford man will now be playing between the sticks at the Racecourse Ground until the end of the season.
To make things even more wholesome, the Premier League veteran has confessed that transfer talks didn’t last long, confessing on his YouTube and Spotify show, the Fozcast: “To be honest, the negotiations took about five minutes”, adding that he’s been paid “literally peanuts”.
Nevertheless, Foster admitted that he doesn’t need much money after such a great career up and down the football pyramid and while “things changed a lot since [he] was last here”, he said, “it’s nice to be back” and labelled manager Phil Parkinson “top class”.
Parkinson, an EFL journeyman himself, had similarly complimentary words for the seasoned keeper, stating: “We’re delighted to welcome Ben to the club. With Rob Lainton getting injured at the weekend, it was important we had all bases covered going into the last part of the season, which this signing ensures.”
The ex-England international first played for Wrexham back in 2005 when he was loaned out by Stoke City and went on to win the EFL Trophy — his first-ever piece of silverware. Now he’s back to help them finally get out of the National League (currently three points clear at the top with a game in hand).
As for his expectations for the season, he said the goal is simple: “getting the team over the line and getting them promoted”, adding “I’m a very low-maintenance player. Just wheel me out, I’ll do a job.” Now that’s the kind of attitude we can get behind.
Speaking to talkSPORT after the sudden move, he revealed that the whole deal felt just as out of the blue for him too, detailing how he got a call from the manager after a bike ride one day and, before he knew it, he’d given them the thumbs up.
Shedding some light on his discussions with the Hollywood owners, he said that Reynolds “actually slid into [his] DMs” once the agreement had been confirmed, joking: “I’m buzzing I’ve got Ryan Reynolds in there, I ain’t even replied to him! I’ll leave him hanging for a bit!”
He went on to admit that he actually approached him first, messaging, “I used to play for Wrexham and if you’re ever available for a podcast I’d love you to come.” Thankfully, he finally responded, saying: “Mate, sorry I didn’t reply. I’ll definitely do the podcast with you, thank you for signing.”
That Deadpool episode is going to be a great watch… You can see him talking about the surprise transfer in full on his YouTube channel down below:
Shoppers are immediately greeted by a DJ booth, a mirrored ceiling and rack after rack of sportswear.
Brands including Adidas, Nike and Puma are all stocked, as expected, alongside other Frasers Group brands like Jack Wills and USC.
Game has a huge presence up on the top floor, where shoppers can also get their clothing purchases customised.
Click or swipe through the gallery below to see more from Manchester’s new Sports Direct store
There’s kit on sale for every sport from hiking to running to skateboarding to hockey to cycling to fishing to boxing to tennis to rugby to golf to swimming, plus a huge astroturfed area dedicated to football.
In the football zone, you can try on a massive range of football boots while sitting in dugout-inspired seats, with rival mannequins dressed in City and United kits propped up on rotating plinths.
It’s not just about the shopping in here either. Sports Direct has brought a whole load of interactive games and challenges to Manchester.
You can test your golf skills at a Putting Challenge, flex your footwork at a miniature sit-down football pitch, and show off your upper body strength by doing dead hangs from a bar for as long as possible.
The bra studio features a unique multi-brand bra finder tool, which can suggest the right size and shape for your sport, whatever brand you go for.
Sports Direct’s Chief Executive Michael Murray said: “Manchester is a significant location for the group, and we’re excited to be opening our next flagship in the city.”
The huge new Sports Direct store in the Manchester Arndale is open now.