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Premier League

Lead bidders submit final bids



In the poker game about a possible sale of the English soccer record champions Manchester United, the two main interested parties have submitted their third and thus last offers.

According to media reports, in addition to a consortium from Qatar led by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe also called for a final sum before the deadline late Friday evening.

While Al Thani and Co.’s new bid for a complete takeover of the club is reported to be in excess of £5bn, the sum requested by Ratcliffe was initially unknown. Al Thani also pledged significant additional funds for transfer spending and infrastructure. These are said to include either the redevelopment of Old Trafford or even the construction of a new stadium. In addition, the Qatari consortium wants to repay the club’s debts of 620 million dollars.

The American Glazer family, who have owned the Premier League club since 2005, announced in November that they were open to a sale. Like Ratcliffe before him, Al Thani made an initial offer in February and another last month. The Glazers’ asking price is said to be around $6 billion, a sale for that amount would be the most expensive deal in sports history.

Ratcliffe, a childhood United fan, is said to be interested in a stake of more than 50 per cent. According to his own statements, the Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus recently got into poker, and the US hedge fund Elliott Investment Management is said to have made an offer for a minority stake.