LONDON — A Manchester United director said Tuesday that the American owners will sell the club eventually but that day is a "long way down the line."
The Premier League leaders have faced mounting speculation about their future ownership since the Glazer family last month cleared around 220 million pounds ($342 million) of high-interest debt used to fund their leveraged 2005 takeover.
The owners haven't announced where the funds came from, although they have said no cash has been drawn from the club.
Reports in Britain and the Gulf over the last week suggested Qatar Holdings is preparing a bid for the club, but the 18-time English champions say they have not had an approach and the club is not for sale.
The Glazers have in the past rebuffed a 1.5 billion-pound ($2.2 billion) offer from an unnamed Qatari group and stressed in May that they "will not entertain any offers" for the club.
But United director Michael Edelson, who has been on United's board since 1982, told The Associated Press on Tuesday: "It is inevitable that at some time they will sell ... but that will be a long way down the line."
Fan protests against the Glazers have mounted throughout 2010 since the club's financial predicament was revealed in a bond prospectus sent to investors in January.
The 504-million pound bond means that even by repaying 220 million pounds of loans last month, the club is not in the debt-free state it was in before the Glazers' leveraged takeover.
In October, United posted a net loss of 83.6 million pounds for the year ending June 30 after costs associated with the huge debts wiped out record revenues of 286.4 million pounds.
Forbes magazine has estimated that United is worth $1.8 billion — making it the most valuable football team for the sixth straight year.
A group of financiers calling themselves the Red Knights joined forces with the Manchester United Supporters' Trust earlier this year in an attempt to put together a bid to buy out the Glazers. That prompted the owners to stress in May that they are committed to "the long-term ownership of the club."