Prospective owners of Manchester United have been told they have until 21:00 GMT on Wednesday to submit second, revised bids for the club as the takeover saga accelerates.
Just how strict this deadline is, and whether any other bidders emerge, remains unclear.
But it could mean that a preferred bidder is declared by Raine – the investment bank conducting the sale very soon, with it then granted exclusivity on the more thorough due diligence process that would take place.
It means the only two publicly-declared bids – Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim and Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe – will have had just a few days to consider the data and information they discovered last week during visits to Old Trafford and the club’s Carrington training complex.
According to BBC, Both parties are understood to have held positive meetings with United officials and both are thought to remain committed to a takeover and expected to make improved, more detailed bids.
But while the amount that both have so far offered has not been disclosed with reports both are in the region of £4.5bn, they are clearly far below the £5-6bn valuation that the club’s American owners – the Glazers – have established.
Ineos wants to buy the combined Glazer shareholding of around 69%. And while the line has been pushed that Qatar is trying to buy 100 percent of the club right now, that is not something that Raine can actually sanction.
Whether they are able to submit an offer that persuades the Glazers to sell is the next key question. If not, the Americans may well decide to retain the club and perhaps instead look to sell a minority stake to the likes of US hedge fund Elliott Investment Management.
Writing by Fany Olumoye