In Man United news, an improved bid for Manchester United – that breaks the £5bn mark – is to be submitted by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani tonight.
The Qatari is set to lodge a concluding offer that would break the world record for a sports franchise, ahead of the 10pm final deadline. However, it remains well short of the £6bn the club's owners, the Glazer family, are thought to be seeking.
Sheikh Jassim's bid is thought to be the only one for full control of the Premier League giants. He wants 100% of the club and his deal would buy out the Glazers and all other shareholders. The Qatari's offer is improved from his previous bid, but he will not go anywhere near £6bn and is determined not to grossly overpay, according to those with knowledge of the process.
Sheikh Jassim's main rival for United is Sir Jim Ratcliffe. The British billionaire is seeking a controlling stake of more than 50 per cent, but his offer would allow two brothers from owners the Glazer family, Joel and Avram, to retain their 20 per cent stake. That is being viewed as a controversial move which would infuriate large sections of United's fanbase, should it be successful.
A major bidding war including numerous parties appears to have failed to materialise after the Glazers put the club up for sale in November. There are offers of investment in exchange for a partial stake from multiple groups including US financial giants Carlyle and Elliott.
In other Man United news, earlier this week, Raine Group – the New York merchant bank running the process – sought further information from those in the running. Bidders were asked to clarify the source of their wealth and explain who would be the ultimate owner. Future financial plans were also requested.
The moves are seen as pre-emptive, ahead of any Premier League tests. However, given the ownership of Newcastle United and Manchester City, it is unlikely Sheikh Jassim's offer would face any issues over fears of state ownership.
Fans are planning a protest against the Glazers ahead of Sunday's match with Aston Villa at Old Trafford, where they will call on the unpopular Americans to oversee a full sale of United rather than any other option.
Earlier this month, a sale of the NFL's Washington Commanders was agreed for $6m – which equates to £4.77bn.