It is nearly 12 months since Reds owners the Glazer family announced their decision to launch a &aposthorough evaluation of strategic alternatives&apos. That led to several interested parties coming forward over a potential takeover or investment in the club.
Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani submitted a full takeover bid, thought to be worth around 5bn before withdrawing from the race last month. That left Ratcliffe as the sole frontrunner, with his Ineos Group expected to pay in the region of 1.25billion for a 25 per set stake in the Old Trafford club, while also acquiring significant control over footballing operations.
Now, the Press Association reports that, while there is no firm timetable for the deal to be finalised, an announcement could come as early as next week, with Ineos optimistic it will be done before the Premier League campaign resumes on November 25 after the international break.
Reports that the deal could come as soon as Monday have, however, been dismissed as that is the date of Sir Bobby Charltons funeral.
The deal is expected to lead to a major shake-up of Uniteds football operations. Sir Dave Brailsford, the former performance director of British Cycling, is expected to take on significant influence in his role as Ineoss director of sport.
The Manchester Evening News understands that Ratcliffe has been holding virtual meetings with United co-chairman Joel Glazer about potential changes to the club&aposs structure, including possible personnel changes. United chief executive Richard Arnold and football director John Murtough are thought to be at risk.
INEOS already owns French Ligue 1 club Nice and Swiss club Lausanne, as well as the Ineos Grenadiers cycling team and Ineos Britannia the sailing team led by Sir Ben Ainslie.
They also have a stake in Formula One team Mercedes, whose team principal Toto Wolff last week said he would also consider investing in United once Ratcliffes deal is completed.
The transfer window will soon close and although United got their hands on three players well in advance of the September 1 deadline, with Rasmus Hojlund joining Mason Mount and Andre Onana at Old Trafford, activity has stalled since Hojlund&aposs announcement.
A goalkeeper, a midfielder and a striker were Erik ten Hag&aposs priorities heading into the summer window, but injuries early on in the season mean United are in need of further reinforcements.
Our team of experts will be on top of all the goings-on at Old Trafford for the remainder of the window and beyond, and you can get the latest updates and inside information to your phone by joining our new free WhatsApp community below.