The Market Basket in Biddeford responded Friday to a company mandate to remove all protest signs from stores by moving them to employees’ cars in the parking lot, the store’s manager said.

Friday also was the deadline for 200 distribution and administration employees to return to work or be fired. Retail analysts said it was unlikely that many of those workers would comply.

Employees and customers are still waiting to find out if the board of directors of Demoulas Supermarkets Inc., which owns 71 Market Basket stores in New England, will vote to sell the company to beloved former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

The Market Basket saga has dragged on for nearly two months, with Demoulas and his rivals on the board publicly exchanging barbs via news releases and written statements.

Since Demoulas was fired on June 22, hundreds of employees have walked off the job and held mass protests, food deliveries have virtually stopped, and the vast majority of customers have boycotted stores.

Demoulas, whose side of the family owns 49.5 percent of the company, has offered to buy out the majority-owning rival faction of the Demoulas family for an undisclosed sum. Analysts believe a sale to Demoulas would revive the business and bring former employees back to the company.

While the board has said it wants to sell to Demoulas, he has described the proposed sale conditions as unrealistic and unacceptable.

Demoulas supporters on Friday released a petition with 21,000 signatures under the statement, “We will not shop at a Market Basket sold to a chain or some other faceless entity, but rather, we will shop at one where Arthur T. Demoulas is allowed to run the company as he has before.”

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