Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani has withdrawn from the process to buy Manchester United, Sky News understands.
His offer, which valued United at more than £5bn, was believed to be the only bid for 100% of the club – that the Glazers announced last November could be sold.
He and Ineos billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe were the leading candidates to take over the football club from the American family.
But it is understood that the Qatari’s valuation was not sufficient for the Glazers, who have owned United since 2005 – so Shiekh Jassim has withdrawn from the process.
There was a rival proposal to buy around 25% of the club by petrochemicals billionaire Sir Jim, who has said he has been a fan of the club since childhood.
Sky News revealed last month that Sir Jim’s Ineos Sports vehicle proposed to the controlling Glazer family a deal that would see it acquiring chunks of both their shares and the stock publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in equal proportion.
That offer would entail making an offer at the same price for both sets of shares.
The Qatari’s first bid for the club was made in February.
Sheikh Jassim’s bid team had floated the possibility of withdrawing in May after a lack of progress since making an apparent final offer requested by the Glazers in April.
Sheikh Jassim is understood to have raised his offer since then but it was not satisfactory for the Glazers despite far more than the club’s $3.3bn valuation on the New York Stock Exchange.
The difference between the parties is over the valuation – which still leaves open the possibility of Sheikh Jassim being enticed back into the protracted process – as protests against the Glazers continue.
Anger against the ownership has simmered and grown as United have started the season by losing four of their opening eight Premier League games to sit 10th in the table.
Erik ten Hag’s side have also lost both Champions League group games so far in the 2023-24 campaign.
Sheikh Jassim’s offer would have made United the most expensive sports team in history by at least £200m, eclipsing the deal to buy NFL side Washington Commanders, but still fell short of the Glazers’ own valuation of the club at around £6bn, it was reported earlier this year.
United are in need of investment to upgrade Old Trafford and win the Premier League for the first time since a record 20th league title in 2013.
The Glazers have owned Manchester United since buying it for just under £800m in 2005 – an 18-year tenure marked by protests and a conspicuous dearth of trophies since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, its former manager, also in 2013.
The Red Devils did win their first trophy in six years by beating Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup final back in February.