Manchester United’s potential sale is moving closer with official meetings scheduled between the bidders and the Glazer family’s sale team. Both the Qatari bid team of Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos have been informed that they have made it to the second stage of the process. New York-based Raine Group is planning to sit down with both parties, probably within the coming fortnight, to flesh out fuller details of a potential deal. The Glazers want £6bn to sell with the two bidders currently valuing the club at around £4.5bn.

There are signs of a split in the Glazer family over their next step, with co-chairmen Avram and Joel Glazer keenest to retain their stakes and stay at the club. Meetings with the two bid teams are likely to be held in the UK, either in London or in Manchester. That is expected to come ahead of the consortia being given access to the United books for the due diligence process. It may then be a month or more before either contender is in a position to make a second more official bid after the initial “indicative” offers last month.

A number of hedge funds, including US-based Elliott Management and Oaktree, helped finance the Chinese Suning corporation’s purchase of Inter and are also keen to underpin any United bid. However, it remains to be seen if the Glazers are willing to listen to any offers below their valuation. With an unofficial deadline for closing the deal, the opening of the summer transfer window on June 1, there are less than 13 weeks to go for United to change hands.

United will be back in action on Sunday, travelling to Anfield to take on bitter rivals Liverpool.

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