Qatari-led consortium confirms bid for Manchester United

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani says his offer will leave club debt free

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani announced that he has submitted a bid to buy Manchester United. PA
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A consortium led by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank, announced on Friday that it had submitted an offer to take over English Premier League club Manchester United.

Sheikh Jassim joins Ineos founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe in seeking to acquire the club from the Glazer family.

Like Sir Jim, he claims to be a boyhood fan of the club and has indicated his bid would leave the club debt free, in contrast to the Glazer family’s controversial leveraged buyout in 2003.

“Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani today confirmed his submission of a bid for 100 per cent of Manchester United Football Club,” a statement read.

The statement did not give details on the amount proposed in the bid for the club but the price could reach a record €6 billion, reports say.

“More details of the bid will be released, when appropriate, if and when the bid process develops,” said the statement, which added that the bid “will be completely debt free”.

“The bid plans to return the club to its former glories both on and off the pitch, and — above all — will seek to place the fans at the heart of Manchester United Football Club once more,” the statement read.

“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 centre, the stadium and wider infrastructure, the fan experience and the communities the club supports.

“The vision of the bid is for Manchester United Football Club to be renowned for footballing excellence and regarded as the greatest football club in the world.”

The American Glazer family completed their takeover of the 20-time English champions in 2005, and announced in November that they were open to a sale or investment.

The Glazers bought United in a £790 million ($938.9 million) leveraged buyout, and had been unpopular with fans even before last year’s move to join a breakaway European Super League.

Manchester United has brought in The Raine Group to assess offers.

Prospective investors need to demonstrate seriousness in a swift process, leading to suggestions that United could even be under new ownership by the end of the 2022-23 season.

United team boss Erik ten Hag has maintained that the mounting takeover rumours will not serve as a distraction to him or his squad before Sunday’s Premier League clash with Leicester.

“We are following it,” ten Hag said. “It’s our club and of course we are committed. But we are focusing on football, on training and our way of play, on games. That is what we are focusing on.

“We are really enjoying in the moment with the togetherness. It’s enjoyable to work. We are focusing on games, so others in the club will have to take decisions, give efforts in the process but it’s not up to us.”

Asked if he had spoken to United chief executive Richard Arnold or any of the Glazer family about what could happen with the takeover, ten Hag said: “No. Just, I will say, from the start, yeah, they involved me, how the process will [be] going.

“I focus on football. They are focusing on other parts, departments of the club. How to get everything, for instance, financed.”

Updated: February 17, 2023, 9:54 PM