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Manchester United bidders given extension to table final offers after frantic negotiations

Qatari banker Sheikh ­Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe have more time to table their bids after frantic last-minute negotiations with Manchester United.  

A deadline of 9pm on Wednesday came and went before the two leading candidates to buy the club confirmed they had been granted more time to finalise their improved offers. 

Telegraph Sport understands the last-minute chaos has caused some friction between parties as the Glazers’ potential sale enters a crucial juncture. 

There is a difference of opinion between various sources close to the deal on who exactly first asked for an extension.  Other minority offers were tabled on time in the hope that the candidates will be whittled down in the coming days. 

Ineos and the Qataris maintain they are still committed to tabling their offers potentially as soon as Thursday. Dealmakers vehemently denied suggestions the deadline had been pushed back at the eleventh hour to flush out more potential interest.

Prior to the late twist, Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim both appeared set to submit their improved offers by Wednesday night–each believed to be worth more than £5 billion in what would represent a world record price for a sports team. 

However, talks with brokers about the flexibility of the deadline appear to have taken place behind the scenes for at least 24 hours. 

Both bidders are understood to have confirmed they will still be making revised offers. Sources close to the Qatari bid said they were still committed to bidding. People familiar with Ratcliffe’s proposal said on Wednesday night that their bid would be in “very shortly”. 

Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group and Sheikh Jassim believe they are the only serious contenders for an outright purchase, depite meetings taking place with up to eight groups. 

The last-minute delay will also increase fears among United fans that the Glazers could yet opt to keep hold of the club.  A £5 billion plus deal would obliterate the current record purchase of a sports team following the sale of the Denver Broncos American football franchise for £3.8 billion last year. 

But the Glazers have been looking for as much as £6 billion to sell, and it remains to be seen if any of the forthcoming bids will be sufficient to persuade the Americans to end their controversial 18-year reign.  

Four of the Glazers siblings, Kevin, Edward, Bryan and Darcie are believed to be eager to sell at the right price but Joel and Avram, the United co-chairmen who have been the most invested of the siblings in the club, are said to be more resistant and have remained open to the idea of a partial sale or minority investment. 

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