Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group may have taken a significant step towards taking control of Manchester United after it emerged its bid put a higher value on the club than Sheikh Jassim’s.
Sources with knowledge of the bidding process have told BBC Sport that the Ineos offer received before 22:00 BST on Friday was the highest, relative to the stake they intend to take.
Qatar banker Sheikh Jassim wants to buy 100% of the club and has offered about £5bn, but British businessman Ratcliffe only wants a controlling stake.
This was initially viewed as the Glazer family’s 69% stake but over the past week, it has been suggested Ratcliffe may reduce that figure to allow co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer to retain some link, although Ratcliffe’s ownership would not be less than 51%.
It is not unusual for bidders trying to secure a smaller stake to pay a higher percentage figure than a purchaser looking to buy the whole thing.
It is understood the investment funds which have offered to buy a minority stake were not given the same deadline as those looking to buy the club.
The Glazer family must now decide how they want to proceed, with the ‘1958’ fan group pushing their planned demonstration around United’s Premier League game with Aston Villa with a ‘Full Sale Only’ message.
Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim are the two main parties looking to take control of the club.
Club owners, the Glazer family, are assessing their position, with Sheikh Jassim’s offer including one figure that would go direct to the sellers.
It also includes a plan to make a significant amount of additional capital and infrastructure investment into the club.
The Glazers announced in November the board had “authorised a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives”, including selling the club.