Manchester United takeover Key questions answered about potential buyers, transfer impact and when deal would be completed
Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol answers questions around a potential Man Utd takeover, including if Qatari interest is rivalling Sir Jim Ratcliffe, how quickly a deal could get done and impact Erik ten Hag’s team, and why Liverpool could appeal to investors instead…
Who is interested in buying Manchester United?
Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS group have confirmed they are bidding to buy Manchester United and reports say there is interest from the USA and the Middle East, including Qatar.
However, while there has been interest, I’m being told by one party who are considering making a bid that it hasn’t been quite at the level expected and certainly not as much as there was when Chelsea was for sale. Last year there were more than 100 expressions of interest in buying Chelsea – although that was an exceptional case, with a deadline and driven by a global news story and also the aspect of some bidders looking for publicity.
There are likely to have been other potential buyers for United who have contacted The Raine Group – who are orchestrating the sale or invitation for investment on behalf of the Glazers – which we don’t know about. They will all have had to sign confidentiality agreements. But there hasn’t been the media circus around potential candidates as we saw with Chelsea.
It’s also worth noting that the Glazers would potentially just be interested in someone investing in the club, rather than buying it completely. . It’s well documented they need to redevelop Old Trafford and do some work on their training ground and that could end up costing around £1bn.
If bidders from Qatar did come forward, what would be driving their interest?
The Qataris want to build on what they see as the success of the World Cup and one way of doing that is to buy a club in the Premier League or a stake in a club in the Premier League, the biggest, most popular league in the world.
The good news for them is they are spoilt for choice at the moment. Liverpool and Man Utd are effectively for sale and there are lots of other clubs looking for investment. Any Qatari move into the Premier League may also see them buying a minority stake in a club such as Tottenham Hotspur.
The chairman of Qatar Sports Investments – which owns Paris Saint-Germain – Nasser Al-Khelaifi met Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy at the World Cup and in London last month. According to Tottenham, the meetings were not about Qatar buying or investing in the club.
The Qataris are aware that their name could be used to drum up interest from other investors but they are looking for a way into the Premier League market.
Would Qatar Sports Investments’ ownership of PSG be an issue?
Al-Khelaifi is also the president of Paris Saint-Germain and the European Club Association and UEFA rules would make it difficult for QSI to own another big European club, although they have recently bought a 21 per cent stake in Portuguese club Braga. If QSI bought Man Utd, for example, they could noy play in the Champions League in the same season as PSG. There are ways around that though.
There are lots of other Qatar-based groups and individuals who could buy Man Utd instead of QSI.
After all the focus ahead of and during the World Cup of human rights issues in Qatar, what would the reaction be if investors from that country bought a Premier League club?
It would be controversial. The country’s track record on worker’s rights, women’s rights and its treatment of the LGBTQ+ community has been criticised over the past few years in the build-up to the World Cup and it would certainly draw media attention again if Qataris were to buy Man Utd.
There would be some supporters who would be delighted by the prospect of owners with near-limitless wealth arriving at Old Trafford but others who would not feel comfortable with them owning their club.
Amnesty International has said the potential Qatari bid should be a “wake-up call” for the Premier League to strengthen its ownership rules but relations between the Qatari and UK governments is good and there wouldn’t be an expectation the Premier League would block that type of investment.
How much is Man Utd likely to cost any buyer?
The Glazer family want £6bn for the club – but it is currently valued at £2.9bn on the New York Stock Exchange. That is a significant gap and it is worth noting that even the lower valuation would still be a worldwide record for a football club.