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The Raine Group co-founder Joe Ravitch reveals that Sheikh Jassim was serious about buying Manchester United

Sir Jim Ratcliffe urged to demolish 'outdated' Old Trafford

The Raine Group co-founder Joe Ravitch has revealed that Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani was serious about buying Manchester United last year before pulling out of talks.

The Qatari was one of two main bidders keen on buying the Red Devils after the Glazers announced in 2022 that they were open to selling the club.

However, Sir Jim Ratcliffe eventually won the race, settling for a minority stake in the club as the British billionaire and American owners could not reach an agreement over a full sale.

Ratcliffe questioned the existence of Sheikh Jassim last month, insisting nobody has ever seen him and that the Glazers never met him.

However, Ravitch has revealed that serious talks took place with the Qataris before things broke down.

“We met Jassim,” the banker told the Times. “He was in New York. He’s a lovely guy – a very smart guy. The Qataris were very real.

“They were very smart guys, very thoughtful. I don’t know why they didn’t appreciate the value [of the club] but we were not their adviser.

“We tried as the seller to explain the value to them, and they put what they thought was a series of very serious bids on the table.

“My clients [the Glazers] are also smart guys. We thought the value would be around $6.5 billion [about £5bn], so we were kind of spot on with regards to where Ratcliffe ended up.

“But when the Washington Commanders [NFL team] went for $6 billion we all thought: ‘Well, United is the most important sports team in the world; more than a billion fans.

“The Commanders own one 32nd of the NFL. Their economics are severely limited by the commercial sharing caps placed on it by the league.

“We know that because the Glazers also own a NFL team. Therefore if someone is willing to pay six billion for the Commanders, someone should be willing to pay more for United.’

“I think the Qataris got to about $5.75 billion [£4.5 billion]. We said to them, ‘You’re within 10 percent, why don’t you get in a room and try to get to a deal’. But they said no. I think they were very conscious of criticism if they were seen to be overpaying.

“Ultimately, we think they would have been good owners but we think the Glazers made the right decision not to take the lesser value, and go with Ratcliffe instead.”

Man United fans will never know how the Qataris would have fared had their deal to acquire the club went through, but everyone has moved on, with Ratcliffe already working to make the Red Devils a force to be reckoned with again.

He has already brought in chief executive Omar Berrada – who will start work in the summer – from Manchester City.

Ratcliffe also wants to land sporting director Dan Ashworth as soon as possible after Newcastle United placed the recruitment expert on gardening leave.

A major squad overhaul is also on the cards this summer, while manager Erik ten Hag could be replaced if he fails to impress the new co-owner during the rest of the campaign.