MANCHESTER: British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe's interest in buying Manchester United has raised the hopes of the club's supporters that their American owners, the Glazer family, might now sell the club and pave the way for a return to glory on the field.
Whether that happens will depend on three key factors: how much they think the club is worth; whether there are potential buyers willing to pay that price; and finally, if the much-criticised Glazers are willing to take the money and leave.
So far, there has been no indication from the publicity-shy Glazers that the club is up for sale or that they would be willing to engage with an offer.
There have, however, been reports that they might be interested in selling a portion of shares to a potential minority investor.
But the fans, who are set to protest against the Glazers again at Monday's Premier League clash with old rivals Liverpool, are hoping for much more radical change than a new junior-partner owner.
With the club not having won a title since Alex Ferguson retired as manager in 2013 and recently having lost all sense of direction, finishing sixth last term and losing their opening two games of this season, there have been renewed calls for a change of ownership.
After the opening day defeat at home to Brighton, former captain Gary Neville, an influential pundit on Sky Sports, said: "The time has come for the Glazer family to sell the football club, the time has come, it's now."
Saturday's 4-0 humiliation at Brentford led the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) to issue a statement saying: "MUST hold the owners of the Club primarily responsible for this new low in our decade of decline."
In May, United reported a net loss of 27.7 million pounds ($34.9 million) for the three months to March 31, compared with a loss of 18.1 million pounds a year earlier - numbers impacted by COVID restrictions.
The club's shares have underperformed its European listed rivals, losing more than a third of their value since 2018. Borussia Dortmund's stock has fallen about 27 per cent while AFC Ajax has jumped 27 per cent.
Ratcliffe's statement of intent, following Elon Musk's jokey Twitter post about buying the club, will have potential buyers thinking.
The recent sale of Chelsea, after sanctions were imposed on Russian owner Roman Abramovich, showed there are no shortage of people with the resources and desire to own a top Premier League clu...