In August, Ratcliffe, a long-time fan of the club, had expressed interest in buying United, Reuters reported. At the time, Elon Musk had also joked about planning to buy the club. Chemical firm INEOS, where Ratcliffe is chairman, declined to comment on Wednesday.
Former England captain David Beckham, who spent over a decade at the club, is open to holding talks with potential bidders for Manchester United, Financial Times reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Prospective buyers could seek to enlist Beckham to boost their chances of taking over the club.
United could be sold for close to 7 billion pounds ($8.44 billion), FT said, citing a banker close to the process who added a bidding war could send it higher.
Manchester United shares were up nearly 19% in New York trading, building on the more than 14% rise following reports of the sales process on Tuesday afternoon.
The company was worth $2.5 billion at the close of U.S. trading on Tuesday. But at $17.76, the shares are not much higher than their 2012 IPO price of $14.
The club’s capitalisation as a public company peaked at $4.3 billion in 2018.
Asian tycoons, especially those from China, have been buying European teams in recent years, including Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers and Italy’s Inter Milan.
However, football clubs have since been deemed unfavourable assets by China and any major overseas purchase would seem unlikely at the moment, said Mark Dreyer, Beijing-based author of “Sporting Superpower”, a book about China’s sports ambitions.
“It’s almost impossible to see how any Chinese-related entity could justify a purchase of this magnitude in the current climate,” he said, citing the economic fallout of China’s battle to contain COVID-19 infections. “No state body would approve this kind of deal.”
The Glazers, who also own the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Bucccaneers, are under pressure with United sitting fifth in the Premier League halfway through the season, currently suspended for the World Cup in Qatar.
The club on Tuesday said star striker Cristiano Ronaldo will leave with immediate effect, marking a bitter end to the Portugal captain’s second spell at Old Trafford after he said he felt betrayed by the club.