The former JJB Sports boss had an agreement back in the 1980s with Martin Edwards, the Old Trafford chief at the time.
His wife Patricia warned him though because she said his JJB customers may stop buying his sportswear stock because of their dislike for the Red Devils.
“I should have done the deal but I didn't – but you can't win them all."
Whelan had his mind made up that he was going to be the new owner of Manchester United until he got home.
“The purchase of Manchester United was all sorted with Martin Edwards and was going to be sealed within 28 days," he reflected on the takeover deal.
“Later I went home and said to my wife Patricia that I'd pulled off a good deal to buy Manchester United.
"£11.5m was a lot of money then. She said 'what?'
“I was in JJB and expanding so she said, 'do you think all the people in London, Liverpool, Birmingham will come and shop at your stores when you own Manchester United – the greatest enemy the teams they support have?'"
“I said 'you might have a point,'" he added.