Manchester United deadline day deals should force Glazers into takeover decision

The ownership situation at Old Trafford remains unclear and after the end of the transfer window the Glazer family must make their intentions at Man Utd clear.

Erik ten Hag and Avram Glazer.

Erik ten Hag shakes hands with Avram Glazer at the FA Cup final but the family’s ownership of the club has made for a difficult transfer window (Image: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Since the Glazer family effectively put Manchester United on the market two transfer windows have passed in which half of the incomings completed at Old Trafford have been loan deals.

United were forced to scramble around in the bargain basement in January and so tight is the line they are treading with Financial Fair Play (FFP) controls that a summer-long pursuit of Sofyan Amrabat had to be redrawn as a temporary transfer in the final days of the window.

Old Trafford sources had insisted a net spend of only around £120million was viable this summer and the window has shut with that figure being hit. The loan signing of Amrabat could only be completed once an initial £15million had been banked from the sale of Dean Henderson, a 26-year-old goalkeeper who could make that fee look foolish if he returns to the England squad.

But by this stage, United were desperate and needed to find a way to turn water into wine. Altay Bayindir’s €5million release clause at Fenerbahce was a gift that couldn’t be ignored and in the final hours of the window, Ten Hag got the extra midfielder he wanted in Amrabat.

Maybe the window will be marked down as a success now. United have a new first-choice goalkeeper, midfielder and striker, and more depth in midfield. They reacted nimbly to bring in cover at left-back in Sergio Reguilon.

But for a club with ambitions of challenging for the title, bringing in five loans in two windows looks like a case of poor squad and financial management. Some of the issues have been forced on United, but some have exposed more significant faultlines.

The FFP tightrope they are walking will remain a concern for now. United will hope they won’t need to be active in January but if they are, it will be another window of low-key, low-cost deals.

United aren’t alone in managing FFP issues and once again they were hamstrung in this window by not making the cash they expected from sales, but the ownership situation is affecting what they can do in the market. Not only are they still haemorrhaging money on debt repayments that could be wiped out by a takeover, but they are failing to get the most out of Old Trafford and redevelopment plans have stalled during the ‘strategic review’.

We are now 15 days away from it being 300 days since confirmation that the controversial owners were considering selling up and to say the takeover has gone quiet would be an understatement. The bids from Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe have been in for a couple of months but there has been no progress.

Industry experts are split over whether the Glazers are pushing for more money, or whether the silence is an indicator that they have decided to stay, or at least Joel and Avram have. There are other financing options on the table besides a full sale and sources have stressed that the November 22 statement spoke of a ‘strategic review’, rather than a guaranteed sale.

But a transfer window that again ended with a late shopping spree and loan deals is just another indicator that time is up for the Glazers. The tightened FFP regulations at the Premier League and, especially, UEFA mean it is vital for clubs to be maximising their revenues and profitability. Under the stewardship of the Glazers, who put none of their own money into the club, United aren’t doing that.

When the Glazers announced the strategic review it felt unfathomable that by September there would still be no indication of the outcome. Not only is there no preferred bidder, but we don’t even know if a full sale is the avenue they are pursuing. It was expected any sale would be completed by the early weeks of the summer, at the latest.

With the transfer window now closed and the decision over Mason Greenwood’s Old Trafford future finalised, the ownership situation is the only issue left on the agenda. It cannot be allowed to drag on any longer.

An international break is on the horizon and it is time for the Glazers to break their silence, to communicate their true intentions to supporters and interested parties and to try and let the club move forward. Another desperate deadline day has once again highlighted that they aren’t fit to own this club.

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