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Sir Jim Ratcliffe is to make a second, improved offer for Manchester United, the PA news agency understands.

The Ineos founder is one of an unknown number of bidders seeking to take full control of or make significant investment in the Old Trafford club.

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar is the only other bidder who is seeking to complete a full takeover that has gone public with their intentions.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe visits Old Trafford
Sir Jim Ratcliffe visited Old Trafford last week (Peter Byrne/PA)

A first round of bidding took place last month, with perspective investors understood to have been given a deadline of 9pm on Wednesday to submit second offers.

It was already understood that Sheikh Jassim would be making a second bid.

No figures have been revealed but one or more of the initial bids were reportedly in the region of £4.5billion.

That would make them world record offers for a sports club but still some way short of the £6bn valuation reportedly placed on the club by current owners the Glazer family.

The Glazers acquired the club for £750million in a highly-leveraged deal in 2005. After a controversial reign, they announced they were seeking “strategic alternatives” that could include a sale last year.

Sheikh Jassim (right) at the World Cup final
Sheikh Jassim of Qatar (right) is also bidding for United (Mike Egerton/PA)

Ratcliffe, who made an unsuccessful bid in the region of £4.25billion to buy Chelsea in 2022, visited Old Trafford last week.

The 70-year-old businessman was born in the Manchester area and is a boyhood United fan. He is one of the richest people in Britain with an estimated personal fortune of £6bn.

Sheikh Jassim, the son of a former Qatari prime minister, is the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank. He has said his interest is a private initiative through his Nine Two Foundation and is not connected to the Qatari state.

His representatives also visited Old Trafford last week for talks which were understood to be positive and constructive.

Little or nothing is known of other potential bidders but it reported that US hedge fund Elliott Management have made a proposal that would involve offering finance to either new bidders or the Glazers.