Saudi Arabia has proposed a takeover of the British football giant Manchester United, as per reports from The Telegraph. In addition, other private organisations have also made formal enquiries in Riyadh.
According to unidentified sources cited by Bloomberg, the Qatari royal family is getting ready to make a USD 6 billion opening offer for the club.
Reportedly, a consortium led by Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, a former leader of Qatar Investment Authority and the nation’s former prime minister, has submitted a proposal to buy the club.
The former Qatar PM’s son, Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad JJ Al Thani, issued a press release announcing his multi-billion-pound bid for Manchester United.
The lesser-known royal family member is now heading the bidding race for the renowned football club, and has hired Bank of America Corp. as one of the advisers.
Sheikh Jassim could post a final offer that values Manchester United, currently owned by the Glazer family, at about £5 billion (USD 6 billion), which would surpass the USD 4.65 billion paid in 2022 by a group led by Walmart Inc. heir Rob Walton for the Denver Broncos NFL team.
Sheikh Jassim’s family has been involved in major sports deals in the past. His father was the Qatar Prime Minister in 2010 when the country won its bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
As per reports, the 40-year-old will have to convince Europe’s top football body UEFA and Manchester United that the source of his wealth is not linked to Paris St. Germain, currently owned by Qatar Sports Investments, which has considered plays for Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool FC.
According to a Reuters article, US private equity firms and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, who founded the chemicals company INEOS and has been a lifelong admirer of the team, is among the possible bidders.
Tech billionaire Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla and Twitter, has also indicated an interest in purchasing the football team.
The US-based Glazer family purchased the club in 2005 for GBP 790 million and is the prospective vendor.
As per Manchester Evening News, key figures at Manchester United are being kept in the dark by the Glazer family over the process to sell the club to avoid on-pitch distractions.
The Glazers are reportedly dealing with the Raine Group, the investment bank managing the probable sale of Manchester United, to avoid distracting the football staff.
Manchester United supporters have reiterated their opposition to the Glazer family through several chants during the 3-0 win over Leicester at Old Trafford. The club is just five points afar from second-ranked Manchester City and Premier League table toppers Arsenal.
The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) demanded that the prospective owner must back manager Erik ten Hag in a statement issued on the eve of the Leicester game.
MUST has implored any prospective bidder to “explicitly commit to backing Erik and his plans to restore Manchester United to glory”.
The Glazer family, led by Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer, executive co-chairmen and directors of Manchester United, has been considering selling their stakes in the club since 2022.
The late Malcolm Glazer bought Manchester United in 2005, and the move brought massive debts for the family, apart from distrust from hardcore supporters, even though the club kept on winning laurels at domestic and global events. Things turned for worse after the 2012-13 successful campaign under the club’s legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson (who retired in 2013). While the Red Devils have failed to win a Premier League title in the last nine years, its performances at the European circuit have taken a nosedive.
Also, frequent changes of managers, along with indifferent transfer seasons, have been adding more fuel to the fire.
Bidders now have access to confidential data on the club’s revenue, and the bidding race will likely get intense in the coming days. Jim Ratcliffe has offered to buy the 69% of shares owned by the Glazers, according to sources, while Sheikh Jassim has put forward an offer for 100% of the club.