Manchester United kick-off their season at home to Wolves on Monday with fresh hope they can end a 10-year wait to win a Premier League title despite the lingering uncertainty over the club’s future.
Nine months on from an announcement by owners, the Glazer family, that they were exploring a sale of the club, the process has stalled.
Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe appeared locked in a battle for control of the club during several rounds of bidding.
However, supporters’ hopes that a new owner could be in place by the start of the new season have been dashed.
Deeply unpopular with fans since they saddled the club with debt in a £790 million ($1 billion) leveraged takeover in 2005, the Glazers are reportedly seeking a world record £6 billion for a sports club.
Protests are planned at Old Trafford on Monday, but they have consistently fallen on deaf ears during the Americans’ nearly two decades in charge.
Despite the uncertainty, United manager Erik ten Hag has again been backed heavily in the transfer market to try and build on a positive first season in charge.
The former Ajax boss overcame a disastrous start to his reign 12 months ago to guide United back into the Champions League and end a six-year trophy drought by lifting the League Cup back in February.
Ten Hag has addressed key positions in a near £200 million outlay on goalkeeper Andre Onana, midfielder Mason Mount and striker Rasmus Hojlund.
Onana, who previously worked under Ten Hag at Ajax, is a more natural fit for the Dutchman’s preference for a ball-playing goalkeeper than David de Gea, who departed United after 12 years as number one.
Mount was both a fans’ favourite at Chelsea and trusted by a series of coaches at Stamford Bridge only to exit his boyhood club over a contract dispute.
But in spending up to £72 million on 20-year-old Dane Hojlund, there are doubts over whether United have overspent on potential rather than prioritising the present.
An expected offensive to try and land Harry Kane never materialised, as the England captain instead headed to Bayern Munich from Tottenham in his quest for silverware