The Manchester United ownership saga will take a significant step forward on Friday in what is expected to be the final bid deadline for interested parties.
It is understood the deadline is 22:00 BST, after which club owners, the Glazer family, will assess their position.
Despite suggestions of multiple bidders, Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos remain the only known realistic bidders set to meet the deadline.
Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus says he has lodged bids previously, but will not submit a fresh offer.
The Glazers announced in November the board had “authorised a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives” including selling the club.
Investment bank the Raine Group was brought in to oversee the process after it handled the sale of Premier League rivals Chelsea.
After a deadline for expressions of interest in February and second deadline last month, Friday marks a third deadline for bids. Bloomberg has reported bidders have been asked to provide the sources of their wealth and financial plans for the club.
It is understood large amounts of paperwork have needed to be completed to get to the latest stage, leading all parties to believe the situation will be resolved before the transfer window opens at the end of the season.
There have also been suggestions this week that Ineos could restructure their offer, which initially was for the Glazer family’s combined 69% stake, in a way that could allow co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer to retain their personal shareholding.
It has been stressed Ratcliffe has been consistent in his view that he wants a majority stake, giving credence to the reports.
This move has already been attacked by the ‘1958’ fans group, who have demanded ‘Full Sale Only’.
The group, who are organising a protest march around Sunday’s Premier League game against Aston Villa at Old Trafford, have also been critical of the potential involvement of US financial institutions Elliott and Carlyle, who have both offered to buy a minority stake in the club.