Man United have suspended certain commercial operations as the club prepares to meet with investors in the next stage of the takeover process, Football Insider has learned.
The club’s commercial department will not sign off on any major new sponsorship deals while uncertainty over the club’s future ownership remains.
Significantly, United are on the hunt for a new front-of-shirt partner after agreeing to buy back their rights from TeamViewer earlier this season.
That deal was worth £235million over its five-year length, and experts such as Football Insider‘s resident finance guru Kieran Maguire believe that United will be looking to better that figure with their next deal.
While the commercial department are continuing to court potential new sponsors, the ultimate decision will rest with the new owners should the Glazer family decide to sell.
The two favourites to buy the club – a Qatari group fronted by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s petrochemicals company Ineos – may want to platform their own business interests through United’s global brand.
Ratcliffe already owns French club OGC Nice, whose shirts feature the Ineos logo, and the company also funds and sponsors the professional cycling team Ineos Grenadiers.
Sheikh Jassim meanwhile is the former head of the Qatar Investment Authority, whose portfolio of businesses is worth over £400billion and is replete with potential commercial alliances.
United’s last major new sponsorship announcement came in early January when the club partnered with Singapore-headquartered financial services firm Doo Group.
The club has 25 global partners in total, as well as many more territory-specific deals.
It is likely – but unconfirmed – that United will continue to negotiate and manage more modest partnerships as takeover proceedings unfold.
Jassim and Ratcliffe meanwhile are the only parties to have publicly submitted soft bids for the club, although American firms Ares and Elliott Management have also been linked.
However, several other consortia and finance groups are believed to be considering offers for a minority stake.
Per reports, interested parties will fly to Manchester to meet with takeover brokers Raine Group this week, with the Glazers still hopeful of concluding a sale in the first quarter of 2023.
That deadline appears ambitious, however, especially if the family is unwilling to budge from its £6billion valuation of the club.
It is believed that all official bids so far have been around the £4.5-5bn mark.