A consortium led by Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), announced that it had submitted an offer to take full control of Manchester United Football Club. The statement did not give any details on the amount proposed in the bid for the club, but the price could reach a record $6 billion, according to reports.
United's Currently Debts Run at Over $620 Million
Manchester United currently has debts running at more than $620 million (580 million euros). However, the bid will be "completely debt free" via Sheikh Jassim's Nine Two Foundation, which will "look to invest in the football teams, the training center, the stadium, and wider infrastructure, the fan experience, and the communities the club supports."
Bidding Battle Between Qatari and Saudi Arabian Interests
The American Glazer family, who completed their takeover of the 20-time English champions in 2005, announced in November that they were open to a sale or investment, which prompted talk in Friday's Daily Telegraph of a bidding battle between Qatari and Saudi Arabian interests. Ineos company, owned by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, is the only bidder to officially declare an interest.
Soft Deadline for Bidders
With United's shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, brokers acting for the club will be obliged to consider offers even after Friday's "soft" deadline expires. The Glazers had signaled they were open to both minority investment and a full takeover. Still, the latter appears to be their preferred option, with American merchant bank Raine brought in to assist United in assessing offers.
Outrage from Human Rights Groups
Any Saudi Arabian investment in the United would prompt outrage from 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.
Sporting Questions Raised
A successful Qatari bid would raise sporting questions as well, given the emirate also controls French champions Paris Saint-Germain. United, one of the most successful clubs in English football history, has not won the Premier League since 2013 and has failed to win any silverware since 2017.