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Sunday, June 2, 2024

Six billion dollar men? Qatar consortium bids for control of Manchester United

A debt-free bid would be in marked contrast to the controversial 2005 leveraged buy-out by the club's current owners, the US-based Glazer family, who revealed in November they were open to a sale or investment.

A consortium led by Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani announced on Friday it had submitted an offer to take over Manchester United in a deal possibly worth a reported $6 billion.

“Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani today confirmed his submission of a bid for 100 percent of Manchester United Football Club,” his press release said.

Read more: Manchester United owners consider sale as Ronaldo exits

“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 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.”

A debt-free bid would be in marked contrast to the controversial 2005 leveraged buy-out by the club’s current owners, the US-based Glazer family, who revealed in November they were open to a sale or investment.

Friday’s announcement means Al Thani has joined British rival Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of chemicals company INEOS, as a declared bidder in wanting to take control of United from the Glazers.

Both Al Thani, the chairman of Qatari bank QIB and a son of a former Qatar prime minister, and Ratcliffe claim to be boyhood United fans.

Read more: Ronaldo to leave Manchester United after criticism of club

Friday’s statement did not give any details on the amount proposed in the bid for the club but the price could reach a record of $6 billion, according to reports.

“More details of the bid will be released, when appropriate, if and when the bid process develops,” said the statement issued via Sheikh Jassim’s Nine Two Foundation.

“(It) 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.”

Sheikh Jassim, 41, was educated at Britain’s elite Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

United, three-times champions of Europe and a record 20-times champions of England, 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 Hag, who took over before the start of the current campaign.