Finance Insider Column: The truth about Elon Musk's Man United takeover interest revealed - £70m-a-year deal now on hold

Five months into the Man United takeover saga and it’s still all smoke and mirrors, a £6billion game of will-they-won’t-they.

Now into the third round of bidding, the Glazers still do not appear to have made up their mind about their future at Old Trafford.

Reports earlier this week that the family were leaning towards remaining at the club – with the aid of capital from one of four US investment firms involved in the process – were met with a mixture of weariness and indignation by fans.

But two sources have told this site that their priority ahead of the 28 April bid deadline remains a full sale, indicating that – shock, horror – those overseeing the process have been planting seeds in the press to further their own interests.

Several months ago, Football Insider brought you the news that takeover brokers Raine Group helped amplify stories suggesting that Elon Musk, Apple and Meta held an interest in United.

None of those stories were accurate and were in fact a deliberate ploy to help illustrate the club’s global appeal to those who genuinely wanted to buy it.

Get Exclusive transfers news at Football Insider's YouTube TV channel

Could the news of the Glazers’ apparent reticence to sell up represent a similarly Machiavellian turn?

The family’s determination to squeeze every last penny from the deal means that a process which originally had an (admittedly ambitious) Q1 target for completion will now extend into Q2 and potentially even Q3.

It is understood that leading minority shareholders in United now believe that there will be no resolution, whether in the form of a full or partial sale, until after the end of the season.

That will disrupt Erik ten Hag’s plans for what is expected to be a busy summer, with as many as 15 players – including Jadon Sancho, Harry Maguire and Anthony Martial – who could reportedly be moving on.

The incomings department is expected to be equally as occupied, and sources have told Football Insider in recent weeks that deals for Alexis Mac Allister, Axel Disasi, Victor Osimhen, Goncalo Inacio, and Matheus Nunes are all on the cards.

The most illustrious name linked is Borussia Dortmund and England superstar Jude Bellingham, of whom Qatari bidder for United Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani is understood to be a huge admirer.

It isn’t just on-pitch preparations that will be disrupted as we approach the summer, however. United are still on the hunt for a new front-of-shirt sponsor having announced in December that they would be breaking with TeamViewer.

A new owner would undoubtedly want a say in the matter, especially if it is the Qataris, who have a whole host of geopolitical and business interests that could be at odds with a partner selected ahead of their arrival at the club.

That deal, which could be worth as much as £70m per season, is therefore on ice, although sources have told this site that the commercial team have been busy lining up prospective commercial partners in the meantime.

Reports elsewhere have suggested that there could be as many as five more bidders whose interest has not been made public.

Football Insider has heard nothing to confirm or deny those reports’ veracity, nor any details on whether the would-be mystery bidders are for a full takeover or minority investment.

There is also no clarity on whether, if they are genuine, the offers are even being taken seriously by Raine Group.

One individual whose interest was pooh-poohed by the auction masters as soon as it landed in their inbox was Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus.

A well-connected financial source has told this site that his approach barely registered at Raine Group HQ.

Zilliacus, who insists the bid was not a publicity stunt has now dropped out of the tender process, proposed to make half of United’s shares available to the public and give fans a say in day-to-day club issues.

He admitted that he wasn’t even aware United were for even sale until shortly before he lodged his bid despite the fact that the formal announcement was made nearly five months ago – and this from someone who professes to be a United fan.

In other news, Kieran Maguire claims Man United have agreed ‘absolutely critical’ deal amid £258m reveal/