Manchester United could have new owners by the end of the season.
The Glazer family, who bought United in 2005, revealed last week they were exploring "strategic alternatives" for the club - one of which was selling it.
No timescale has been put on the process, which is not subject to the same tight restrictions as those around the sale of Chelsea in the summer.
BBC Sport understands if the Glazers sell - which is not certain - a deal is likely to be done by the spring.
The Glazers purchased United in a controversial £790m leveraged buyout in May 2005.
The club has since spent more than £1bn on interest and loan payments, plus share dividends - the majority of which have gone to the American family.
Widespread supporter protests accompanied the sale and have returned in recent seasons, particularly since the failed attempt to launch the European Super League.
It is felt that unpopularity will be an advantage in the sales process as, in addition to what is being regarded as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy one of the world's most well-known sporting organisations, any new ownership group is likely to benefit from a sympathetic welcome because they will follow the Glazers.
It has been stressed a sale will only be concluded if the price is right. That is certain to be far in excess of United's valuation on the New York Stock Exchange at the close of trading on Tuesday, which was $3.65bn (£3.05bn).
On top of the sale price, new owners would also need to fund urgent work on the club's stadium.
Whilst building an entirely new stadium has not been ruled out, the Glazers have tended to view improving the existing one as being preferable. Old Trafford has been the club's home since 1910 and is regarded as being part of its overall brand value.
- When Louis Theroux met Bear Grylls: Did he find the real man beneath the tough-guy exterior?
- She scammed the world, then vanished: The 'Cryptoqueen' who persuaded millions to join her financial revolution