Saudi Arabia in race to buy Manchester United: Report
Saudi Arabia has joined the race to buy Manchester United ahead of Friday’s nominal deadline, in what could be the most lucrative deal in the history of the sport, according to a report in Britain’s Daily Telegraph. The American Glazer family, who completed the takeover of the 20-time English champions in 2005, announced in November that they were open to sale or investment. British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos company officially entered the race to buy the club last month – the only bidder to publicly declare interest so far.
However, there have been several suggestions of a possible Qatari bid, with The Guardian reporting the kingdom’s ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is interested in buying United just weeks after the energy-rich Gulf nation is due to host the World Cup. Showed interest.
But with United’s shares trading on the New York Stock Exchange, brokers working for the club will be obliged to consider offers even after Friday’s ‘soft’ deadline expires.
The Glazers had indicated that they were open to both a minority investment and a full takeover, but the latter now appears to be their preferred option.
Deeply unpopular with supporters since saddled the club with huge debt in a £790 million ($961m) leveraged takeover in 2005, the Glazers further angered fans by backing a failed European Super League project in 2021.
United has previously partnered with Saudi Telecom, the country’s largest telecommunications company.
The Telegraph reported that sources close to the country’s £515 billion Public Investment Fund (PIF) had played down the prospect of a state-backed bid because of their existing involvement in rival Premier League club Newcastle United. According to reports, the Glazers are seeking £6million for the three-time European champions, which would break the record fee for a football club set by Chelsea last year.
A consortium led by LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Bohly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital paid £2.5 billion for the Blues and promised to pay £1.75 billion in further investment in infrastructure and players.
Any Saudi investment in the United Kingdom would anger human rights groups who have spoken out against the Gulf state following the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
A Qatari takeover would be opposed on similar grounds, with Peter Frankenthal, Amnesty UK’s director of economic affairs, saying it would represent “a continuation of this state-backed sportswashing project”.
A successful Qatari bid would also raise questions of sport, as the Emirates also control Paris Saint-Germain, one of the club’s European rivals.
Manchester United have not won the Premier League since 2013 and have failed to win any silverware since 2017.
They are third in the Premier League this season after an improvement in form under manager Erik ten Haag, who took over before the start of the current campaign.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and was auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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