US hedge fund Elliott Investment Management has made it through to the second stage of the bidding process in the potential sale of Manchester United.
Representatives from the company are understood to have been at Old Trafford on Thursday to watch the team’s 4-1 win against Real Betis in the Europa League.
The BBC and Sky Sports said the US firm’s proposal was to offer financing to interested parties, including current owners the Glazers if they decide to remain at the club, rather than seeking to buy the Premier League giants outright.
Elliott previously owned AC Milan before the Italian club was sold to American investment firm RedBird Capital last year.
The news comes days after it was reported that bids from Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe to buy the club had progressed to the next stage.
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Sky Sports and the Telegraph said those two bidders would now have the opportunity to conduct due diligence on the club by accessing detailed financial information.
Neither bid is understood to have met the reported £6 billion ($7.2 billion) asking price of the Glazers, who said in November they were considering selling the club.
The Americans have been deeply unpopular with United fans since burdening the club with huge debts after their takeover in 2005 and have also overseen a decline in United’s fortunes on the field.
Victory over Newcastle in last month’s League Cup final was United’s first trophy for six years. They last won the Premier League title a decade ago.
Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim is aiming to take 100 percent control of the 20-time English champions and has earned support from some fans by pledging to wipe out United’s debt.
However, the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust has expressed concern over Qatar’s human rights record.
Ratcliffe’s INEOS company is seeking to gain majority control of United by buying out the stake held by the Glazer family.
Ratcliffe, a self-proclaimed United fan, is one of Britain’s wealthiest people due to the success of his global chemicals company.