With anti-Glazer momentum building with every passing day, the rumour mill has been swirling with potential buyers for the club. Just yesterday, Elon Musk, with a net worth of £225 billion, jokingly threw his hat in the ring, claiming he was going to buy the club, before confirming he wasn’t serious. Michael Knighton, a former board member at United who had a bid for the club turned down in the 1980s, has also been doing the rounds claiming he wants to get a consortium together for a hostile takeover.

However, while most stories could be taken with a pinch of salt, this evening there has been an interesting development. The Times have reported that Sir Jim Ratcliffe, with a net worth of £10 billion, has confirmed his intent to buy a stake of the club, with a view to taking full control, if the Glazers are open to it.

A spokesman for the Ineos billionaire confirmed that Ratcliffe would welcome the chance to talk to the club’s American owners. “If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer,” the spokesman said. “If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership. This is not about the money that has been spent or not spent. Jim is looking at what can be done now and, knowing how important the club is to the city, it feels like the time is right for a reset.”

Earlier today, Bloomburg reported that the Glazer family would consider selling a minority stake with their position at United becoming more and more difficult following increased pressure from fan protest, largely led by The 1958. This report claimed that preliminary discussions about the possibility of bringing in a new investor had taken place.

Ratcliffe could be considered a more serious buyer than other names linked with the club, given he put a £4.25 billion bid in for Chelsea earlier this year. His offer came after the deadline though, paving the way for new owner Todd Boehly.

At the time, United fans questioned why Ratcliffe wouldn’t put in an offer for United, given the Mancunian is a lifelong United fan. He was at the Nou Camp in 1999 to watch us win the final trophy in our Treble winning season. He responded by claiming he understood why supporters wanted his interest, but “Manchester United is not for sale.”

Now the Glazers may be prepared to sell a stake, Ratcliffe is interested, and with a foot in the door, may eventually be in a position to buy the club outright, for an estimated £5 billion.

Ratcliffe amassed his fortune through shale gas as a co-founder of Inspec, before launching Ineos, the fourth largest chemical company in the world, in 1998. He is also the owner of Ligue 1 football club Nice and professional cycling team Ineos Grenadiers.

United’s next protest against the Glazers will take place on Monday night ahead of the Liverpool game, with supporters meeting at the Tollgate from 5.30pm before marching to the stadium at 7pm.