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The Qatari investment group led by Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani would be willing to ‘overpay’ in order to buy from the Glazers ahead of Ineos chief Sir Jim Ratcliffe, according to reports. The Red Devils are still in the process of finding new owners, with a proposed takeover expected to occur before the start of next season if everything goes to plan over the coming weeks and months.

The Qatari bidders were previously adamant that they would not pay over the odds to buy United and saw an initial bid turned down last month, although their stance is said to have softened following an in-person visit to Old Trafford on Thursday. Sheikh Jassim is now consulting with his bankers and advisors to put together what he believes will be a ‘compelling’ offer to purchase the club, according to Sky Sports.

It is said that the Qatari group are willing to table a second proposal next week that is expected to be closer to the Glazer-imposed asking price of around £6billion. They have decided that they are prepared to overpay for the Red Devils because of the history of the club and the unique nature of the opportunity to lead a successful takeover due to the fact that it hardly ever crops up on the market.

The consortium met with United officials on Thursday after travelling to Manchester from London by train, with discussions said to have ended on a positive note. Sheikh Jassim did not attend the meeting in person, though, with the Qatari bank manager instead sending a team of experts in finance, banking, property and law.

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However, it seems likely that Ratcliffe will be looking to rival the Qatari consortium in the next stage of the bidding war and is planning to submit a renewed offer of his own before the end of next week. The 70-year-old also visited Old Trafford a day later and was photographed outside the stadium after meeting with club executives alongside a number of Ineos representatives.

It remains to be seen how the situation will play out between now and the start of next season, with the Glazers set to decide their next course of action once the new bids have been submitted over the coming days. The possibility of a Qatar-led takeover has raised legitimate concerns over the country’s human rights record in recent weeks, although United legend Gary Neville recently played down the issue by suggesting that the horse may already have bolted regarding state-run clubs in the Premier League.

“There is some concern, [but] they want a debt-free club,” Neville told Sky Sports last month. “They’ve become harmed mentally by debt, Man United fans, over these last few years. There’s a feeling they want an ownership that can compete with the Middle East estates we have in this league, which is Saudi Arabia at Newcastle and Abu Dhabi at Man City.

“From my point of view, there’s a white paper coming out later this week from the government. I know that might seem like really boring stuff around legislation through parliament of Tracey Crouch’s report and the independent regulator but I honestly believe, at this moment in time, the EFL are powerless, the FA are powerless.

“The Premier League is stuck in a lot of their governance because they’ve got 20 different owners with 20 different mindsets and vested interests and self-interests and we do need, most importantly, whether it be for Man United, Man City or the whole league, we need to know what is expected of owners in this country.

“Keep a cap and control on the clubs like Man United, Man City and Newcastle, who may have nation-state involvement, but allow other clubs to come up to their level of spending if they’ve got a wealthy owner that wants to come in.”

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