The Red Devils club is controlled by a consortium led by the Glazer family. A remaining 5% of the capital is listed in New York. At a price of $21.5 per share, it has a market capitalization of $3.5 billion, or £2.8 billion.

There is £700 million of net debt, which brings the enterprise value to £4.2 billion. Could this be an attractive arbitrage opportunity?

A £5 billion sale would set a record in the very closed world of large sports investments, currently held by Rob Walton - one of the heirs of the Walmart group - who last year spent a cool $4.6 billion on the Denver Broncos.

Ratcliffe is probably not the only one on the line. Among others, the Qatari billionaire Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, whose pockets are undoubtedly deep but whose intentions are still secret, could bid higher.

Manchester United has had a mixed record under the Glazer family. The family has not made a bad financial deal since its £790 million LBO acquisition in 2005, but from a sporting point of view it is a different story: the club has not won a Premier League championship since the departure of its legendary coach Alex Ferguson, and its star is fading in Europe.

As a result, its sponsorship revenues are lower than those of Manchester City or PSG. The turnover has not moved since 2017, while the club is overloaded with debts and is close to insolvency. It is also a red card for the operation, which goes from being barely profitable to a clear deficit.

While the capital structure was deteriorating and the debt was increasing, the Glazer family was emptying the cash reserve through dividend distributions. As a result, the club is now in no position to finance the renovation of the Old Trafford stadium and the Carrington training complex, for a total cost that should exceed £1 billion.

In short, now that the lemon has been squeezed, the sale seems obvious. But beyond a possible arbitration operation, an investment in Manchester United remains primarily a bet on an oligarch's whim.