Qatari impending takeover Manchester United confirmed

Qatari impending takeover Manchester United confirmed

A fund linked to the Qatari royal family has expressed an interest in buying Manchester United, with a bid now under consideration before next week’s deadline for interested parties.

Documents circulated by Raine, the New York bank managing the sale for the Glazer family, state that potential buyers have until Friday, February 17 to table an offer, with Qatari sources insisting that a decision has not yet been made on whether to bid. That said, the same sources believe an offer could well be forthcoming.

The Qataris have already joined other groups from around the world in contacting Raine to gain access to the documents from which they can do their due diligence before deciding whether to join the race to purchase a club with a claimed global following of more than a billion people. It is believed that direct conversations with the Old Trafford hierarchy have taken place.

The Times reported last month that, having hosted the World Cup last year, the Qataris are now looking to significantly increase their sporting portfolio by investing in a Premier League club.

There have previously been meetings between Nasser Al-Khelaifi — the president of Paris Saint-Germain and chairman of Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) as well as beIN Media Group — and Daniel Levy, the executive chairman of Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham denied the discussions with Al-Khelaifi were linked to either selling the club outright, the potential sale of a stake in the business or a naming-rights deal for the club’s state-of-the-art stadium.

But it is understood that a meeting between Al-Khelaifi and Levy at the Fairmont Hotel in Doha during the World Cup was followed by further discussions in London last month, with the discussions part of the Qataris’ wider exploration of options for gaining a foothold in club football’s most revered and richest domestic league.

On Wednesday, Qatari sources insisted the talks with United were part of the same project, although it is not QSI involved in those discussions. Uefa rules would not allow the owners of PSG to have a controlling stake in another club in one of its European competitions, therefore meaning that QSI could not own United unless they suddenly decided to sell the French giants.

QSI is a subsidiary of the Qatar Investment Authority, the state-run sovereign-wealth fund, and therefore ultimately under the control of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Quite how another fund with a link to the Qatari royals could become the new United owner under those present Uefa regulations remains to be seen.

 “There are definitely some regulatory challenges,” one insider close to the process said.

The Qatari fund has yet to appoint a PR firm, the services of which would only be enlisted if it does decide to pursue United.

There will also be other bidders, even if another insider suggested on Wednesday that serious interest in buying United is more limited than the Glazers perhaps hoped; certainly at the present price tag of between £6 billion and £8 billion.

Jim Ratcliffe, the chief executive of the Ineos group, remains the only potential buyer to have publicly expressed an interest, but it is believed that kind of figure is even too much for one of Britain’s richest individuals.

As well as interest from big American investors, there are also claims of possible bids from countries such as China and Singapore in addition to the Middle East.

Another Middle Eastern owner in the Premier League would be a cause for concern if it simply strengthens the position of English football’s top flight as the financial powerhouse of the European game.

Javier Tebas, the president of Spain’s La Liga, said a United takeover linked to the Qatari state would be bad for football. He told The Times: “Multi-club ownership is already a complicated topic, it becomes even more complex when a state owns multiple clubs.

“It would not be good for European football.”