To be fair, the glacial Glazers’ pace in facilitating the sale of Manchester United is very on-brand.

Remember, this is the club whose notorious lack of urgency once resulted in the successor to Sir Alex Ferguson having the hardest job in football ‘eased’ with the last-minute addition of Marouane Fellaini and Marouane Fellaini only. How fierce an objection would the custodians of Old Trafford really lodge against the accusation they have always been about what is best for the Glazers, not what is best for Manchester United? Half-hearted, I’d bet.

That the future of United remains undecided even as the most crucial of summers approaches should surprise no one. There is no tangible benefit to the players, management, and supporters – you know, the people who actually matter - in having this process drag on in excess of seven months when the only two serious contenders for new ownership have been ready and willing from the very outset.

Those months have been characterised by a lack of transparency; an information vacuum inevitably filled with speculation and, this week, disinformation. United’s share price on the New York Stock Exchange shot up 16 per cent on Tuesday morning amid an apparent agreement to sell the club in its entirety to Sheikh Jassim and his Nine Two Foundation.

As it turns out, the source of the rumour was reportedly then traced back to a Twitter account based in Cardiff which had been amplified by a Qatari newspaper. It’d be naïve to think that the proposed sale of Manchester United was not always going to be the subject of intense speculation and endless teasing headlines, but when lack of clarity around the process reaches a point where the club’s stock price ends up being actively influenced by social media mischief, is it perhaps time to ask just what is going on here?

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Nobody was expecting the Glazers to ask prospective bidders to idly tap their credit cards – maybe even put in their PIN for security, since there’s a few quid involved – and be done with it, but we are now well over half a year into this saga and it’s still not even clear what United’s owners really want from it.

Of course, negotiations require a degree of secrecy but the whole thing has been one big guessing game on all sides. Since the initial announcement in November 2022 that they were ‘commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives’ for the club, the Glazers have been near-silent.

There has been the odd off-the-record briefing, including a line in an early report that they were not necessarily looking for the highest price but the best outcome for the club. If that was the case, why did they ask Paris Saint-Germain and Qatar Sports Investments president Nasser Al-Khelaifi to have a word with Sheik Jassim about upping his offer?

The dearth of information and painfully slow pace of progress has given rise to all manner of theories and fed into fans taking increasingly entrenched positions. One suggestion is the Glazers are using Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS group as a ‘stalking horse’ to squeeze as high an offer as possible from Sheikh Jassim. They will know that Ratcliffe, obscenely wealthy as he is, will have a limit that does not necessarily apply to his Qatari rival.

But they will also be well aware that announcing Sheik Jassim as the preferred bidder would bring awkward questions about Qatari state influence in the process, something which has been strongly denied. Either way, it would likely mean a lengthier transaction and higher levels of unwelcome scrutiny.

It has also been floated that the Glazers don’t really want to sell up at all, but are more interested in securing increased investment to redevelop Old Trafford. It has long been one of the primary examples United fans have used to demonstrate the Glazers’ alleged lack of care for the club; that their once-leading stadium has been allowed to fall well behind the current best-in-class grounds. If the Glazers could make more money in the long run by bringing Old Trafford up to scratch and staying on, why would they need to sell at all?

If you’re getting speculative vibes from some of the above then you’re probably right, but it all stems from the fact there are so many more questions than answers around this situation, even this far down the line. What do the Glazers really want? How much resistance would there be from Premier League rivals to a Sheikh Jassim takeover? What would happen with United’s still-astronomical debt if there is not a full sale?

In the middle of all this are the United supporters. Admittedly, some have not exactly covered themselves in glory by dismissing, or simply ignoring, Qatar’s human rights record, the same record which underpinned coverage of the 2022 World Cup. In general, though, the fans surely deserve better than being strung along for seven months while remaining none the wiser as to what the future of their club might look like.

And then there is Erik ten Hag, who delivered a far more positive first season in charge than anticipated, given the mess he inherited. The Dutch manager has a squad to shape in the coming transfer window, arguably the most important for several years given the green shoots of recovery now showing. With Manchester City still dominant, Arsenal emerging as a force once more, Newcastle United growing ever-stronger plus Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham all regrouping, United can ill-afford not to strengthen considerably.

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As it always is this time of year, the rumour mill is in overdrive and United are being linked with a host of players which have excited supporters. But until these deals are rubberstamped there will be lingering concern the current takeover limbo will stifle summer spending. United have rarely ever been efficient at this time of year, even without a protracted takeover process with no end in sight hanging heavy over Old Trafford.

There has been a suggestion the process is indeed now entering its ‘final stages’, but is there anyone not taking that with a liberal helping of salt? The term ‘deadline’ has been used as laxly as possible. Final bids have not really been final bids at all. The smoke and mirrors via various media sources continues until the next deadline which may or may not actually be a deadline, until the next final, final, final bid. Rinse and repeat.

I’ll probably be back here writing this same column again next month. See you then!