A date is reportedly in the books for Manchester United to announce who has won the biggest takeover race in sports history.
Speculation has circulated for months regarding who out of Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Qatari royal Sheikh Jassim bin Hamal Al Thani would cross the line and purchase the Premier League powerhouse. The chase was reduced down to those two suitors, with Sheikh Jassim seeking a total takeover while British business magnate Ratcliffe offered to keep the Glazers involved as stakeholders.
But it appears the Red Devils will join the growing list of major clubs controlled by those with Middle Eastern connections after The Sun reported Sheikh Jassim could put the finishing touches on his buy-out by mid-October. However, an announcement over the deal could some as soon as next month.
It's understood Sheikh Jassim's team are 'completing their due diligence' before officially signing off on the £6billion deal, which will see the Glazers leave Old Trafford for good. The late Malcolm Glazer first invested in the club in 2003 before taking a controlling interest two years later, beginning one of the most controversial reigns of any club in England's top flight.
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Glazer Sr's 90% stake in the club was divided between his six children after his death in 2014. However, the club has undergone a major decline in the years since then, resulting in revolt from fans eager to see them ousted from the board.
Tuesday's news will be like music to the ears of many supporters desperate to see the Americans – who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL – out of Old Trafford. However, there are notable concerns about Sheikh Jassim's bid and what it may represent.
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The involvement of another Middle Eastern power raises questions about 'sportswashing' and certain questionable policies promoted by those nations. English rivals Manchester City (controlled by Abu Dhabi) and Newcastle (Saudi Arabia) have faced similar scrutiny in the past.
As well as wiping out United's mountain of debt – thought to be in the region of £725million – it's understood Sheikh Jassim would prioritise renovations to Old Trafford in the event he takes over the club. In addition, the club's Carrington training base would also undergo an upgrade.
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Unless there's a drastic change in the bidding process in the coming days, all signs suggest United will soon belong to the son of the former Emir of Qatar. Little is know about Sheikh Jassim despite playing such a prominent role in these discussions for almost a year.
For many fans, a change of hands will represent a sense of relief regardless of who's stepping into the owners' box. And the finish line may finally be in sight as supporters approach one of the most significant moments in United history.
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