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Gary Neville sends a message to the Glazers as they weigh up big-money offers

Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos company will compete with Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, chairman of Qatari bank QIB, to acquire United.

Gary Neville

Kevin PalmerSunday World

Gary Neville has been an outspoken critic of the Glazer family’s ownership of Manchester United in recent years and now he has sent a strong message to them as they consider several big-money offers to sell the club.

Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos company will compete with Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, chairman of Qatari bank QIB, to acquire the Old Trafford club from the Glazer family.

Ratcliffe is one of the UK’s wealthiest people with an estimated net worth a £12.5billion following the success of global chemical company Ineos.

He had already expressed his desire to buy United – the club he has supported since childhood – and now there are suggestions that his offer for United comprises of a deal to buy the Glazer’s 69 per-cent stake in the club.

There have been suggestions that the current United owners may consider a partial sale of the club, but Old Trafford legend Neville told Sky Sports that the moment has come for them to leave the club entirely.

"I think what scares Manchester United fans most is the feeling this Man Utd ownership are running this process to drive a massive price up to try to somehow establish a level which means two of them can stay in and the rest of the family that want out can be bought out by an American fund who wouldn't mind owning a minority or significant share but not the entirety of the share," said Neville.

"That's the biggest concern. The whole emphasis at this moment in time from Man Utd fans is this has to be the end of the Glazer ownership.

"They've run out of money, they've not invested in the stadium… the fans want a new stadium, whether that's Old Trafford refurbished or a new one rebuilt, we need new facilities. Man Utd's stadium is behind a lot of the big clubs in Europe.

"The sporting project they've failed on in the last 10 years since Sir Alex Ferguson left. It's doing quite well at the moment, third in the league but it's not where Man Utd want to be.

"I still think there is a focus that this isn't one big charade that the Glazers are running to try to establish a value which would be for their brothers and sisters to exit and the couple that want to stay in to stay. There's a priority at this moment in time for them to go."

Meanwhile, a leading Manchester United fan group has expressed concern about a potential takeover of the club coming from nations where same-sex relationships are criminalised.

Wealthy Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani has already tabled a bid while there is rumoured interest from Saudi Arabia to end the controversial reign of the Glazer family.

The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) has echoed the uneasiness of the LGBTQ+ supporters’ group the Rainbow Devils in a statement to prospective buyers also including Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos.

Ratcliffe has launched a takeover bid but his company’s ownership of Ligue 1 side Nice was another topic of disquiet among MUST, which urged any new owners to engage in discussions with fan groups.

The group said in a statement: “There are questions about sporting integrity given the exceptionally close links between some bidders and the owners of other European clubs including PSG and Nice.

“We also note the importance that any owner respects the rights of all people, particularly women and the LGBTQ+ community. Concerns have been raised by other fans groups which we fully support.

“We urge all bidders to open a dialogue with fans groups alongside the bidding process with the club, in order to discuss their proposals including the above issues.”

A list of requests to any new owner was laid out by MUST in December, with how the bid is financed among the utmost importance given the Glazer family’s contentious leveraged takeover.

The Glazers have been deeply unpopular owners but Ratcliffe, who claims to be a boyhood United fan like his rival Al Thani, has indicated his offer would leave the Old Trafford club debt-free.

MUST added: “There are also questions about whether any bids will also be based on high levels of debt.”

United sit third in the Premier League and will contest the Carabao Cup final against Newcastle next weekend, with Erik ten Hag reviving the club’s fortunes in recent months.

MUST added: “Everyone can see the progress the team is making under Erik Ten Hag. After the frustrations of the last decade, it is clear that enormous strides are being taken. Any prospective bidder needs to explicitly commit to backing Erik and his plans to restore United to glory.”

Ten Hag admitted the possible buyout has captured attention among his players and staff but, speaking ahead of Sunday’s visit of Leicester, the Dutchman urged United to focus on on-field matters.

Ten Hag said on Sky Sports: “We are following the news, we are of course curious what will happen because we are committed, it’s our club but finally it’s nothing to do with us.

“We have to focus on football, that is all we have to do. We have to perform, we have to get the right results and don’t get distracted from things that are going around the club.”

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