Daily Mail journalist Mike Keegan thinks the sale of Manchester United will ultimately come down to who offers the Glazers more money.
That might appear to be the most obvious statement of all time but the two favourites, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim, are both structuring their offers differently.
The Glazer family have been open to selling the club since last November and reports at the end of June suggested Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim was leading the race ahead of British billionaire Ratcliffe.
The whole process has been pretty shambolic and is dragging on a lot longer than initially anticipated.
And Keegan says there is still “no winner” in the race for ownership of Manchester United.
He said during a Q&A on Wednesday: “As of this morning I am told that there has been no real movement since our last story which said that negotiations were ongoing with a number of interested parties and that we still, I’m sad to report, have no winner.”
United fans are understandably anxious that the Glazers will come out of this whole saga as the club’s majority shareholders and Keegan says the American family “have planned for all outcomes”.
“The Glazers – and United – have planned for all outcomes,” he said. “Throughout, they have described this as exploring ‘strategic alternatives’.
“As we know, the ongoing saga has had little impact on the transfer window given FFP determines how much Erik ten Hag can spend, which is not very much thanks to previous, catastrophic windows.
“The Glazers have a price. If that price is not met, then they will be reluctant to sell. Should that be the case they will pin their hopes on a successful season extinguishing the flames of unrest.”
Keegan could not even answer whether or not United will be sold before 2024 with the Raine Group – who is overseeing the sale – trying to ‘bridge the gap’ between the Glazers’ asking price and the offers on the table from Jassim and Ratcliffe.
“That’s a great question and one I would have laughed at had it been asked in February, when we revealed that a bid was going to come from Sheikh Jassim or even at the end of April, when we had the deadline for final bids,” he said.
“My read on it is that Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe have lodged their bids, they are not at a level the Glazers are prepared to accept.
“Raine are currently trying to bridge that gap. Things can change quickly but my latest info is that there has been little to indicate a sale is imminent.
“It’s worth noting that even if we get to a stage where a bid is accepted, which is not a given, the due process – Premier League owners and directors’ tests etc – have to follow, which will add a couple of months.
“Bearing all of the above in mind I would say end of this year is slightly optimistic.”
Incredibly, there is not a current favourite to successfully take over the club.
“I don’t think there is one,” Keegan said when asked if there is a favourite between Ratcliffe and Jassim.
“I think that negotiations are continuing with both Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s groups with a view to getting either of them closer to the asking price.
“There are other details to consider. The SJ offer is seen as ‘cleaner’ in that it is for 100% of the shares, at once. However, the SJR offer has potential issues given the way it is structured and how it may be received by the owners of shares who are not called Glazer.
“At face value, that may make SJ favourite but, based on what we know about the Glazers, I would be amazed if the winner is not the group that offers them the most money.”