Report on the $6.2 billion offer for Manchester United made by Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim
The third and final offers to purchase Manchester United were submitted on Friday by British businessman Jim Ratcliffe and Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani.
File image of the Manchester United team© AFP
Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe made their third and final offers to buy Manchester United on Friday. Sheikh Jassim is in a bidding war with Ratcliffe after the pair emerged as the main contenders to buy the Premier League club from the Glazer family.
While Sheikh Jassim’s latest offer is reported to be over GBP 5 billion ($6.2 billion), the size of Ratcliffe’s improved bid was yet to be made public when Friday’s deadline for the third round of bidding passed at 2100 GMT. Sources said Sheikh Jassim’s bid for 100 percent control of the club comes with the promise of significant additional funding for transfers and infrastructure.
The money would be used on updating United’s outdated Old Trafford stadium or building a brand-new one, as well as upgrading the team’s practise facilities.
Additionally, Sheikh Jassim’s proposal calls for wiping out United’s $620 million debt. Former Chelsea owner Ratcliffe, the founder of INEOS Chemical Company and a lifelong United supporter, is rumoured to desire to acquire a controlling stake in United worth more than 50%.
That would enable United’s executive co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer to maintain their 20 percent ownership stake in the company, which has alarmed a fanbase weary of the Americans’ contentious rule.
It’s possible that the Glazers won’t accept either Sheikh Jassim’s or Ratcliffe’s offer because they reportedly demand a record-breaking GBP 6 billion for a sports club before they agree to sell the Old Trafford team.
The Glazers, who have been incredibly unpopular with fans since they burdened the club with debt in a GBP 790 million leveraged buyout in 2005, were ready to sell at a huge profit when they first opened the door to outside investment in November.
However, private equity firms Elliot Investment Management and The Carlyle Group are among those looking for a minority stake that would permit the Glazers to maintain control and provide the money for infrastructure improvements to the club.
According to reports, Kevin, Bryan, Edward, and Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, siblings and fellow directors, are willing to sell their shares in United while Avram and Joel Glazer are apparently eager to keep them.
It was estimated that the highest bids from the final round of bidding, which was managed for the Glazers by New York merchant bank the Raine Group, were worth up to GBP 5 billion.
With a further GBP 1.75 billion in projected infrastructure and player investments, it would have shattered the Premier League record of GBP 2.5 billion paid for Chelsea by a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital last year.
The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) has requested a speedy resolution of the matter so that the summer transfer window can begin with the new owners in place.
“We urgently need new investment, which unquestionably calls for new ownership. MUST and United supporters all over the world are requesting that this process be finished as soon as possible, the supporters’ group stated in a statement. A demonstration against the Glazers is reportedly being planned by United supporters before Sunday’s game against Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
A decade of deterioration in dire need
Over the past ten years, United has steadily declined both on and off the pitch while owned by the Glazers.
Since previous manager Alex Ferguson resigned in 2013, the Red Devils have failed to win the Premier League championship, and their revenue has lagged behind that of their neighbourhood rivals Manchester City and Liverpool due to a lack of Champions League play and a failure to update Old Trafford.
However, they are experiencing a comeback this year under Erik ten Hag’s leadership after winning the League Cup in February to end a six-year trophy drought. On June 3, they will compete against Manchester City in the FA Cup final.
A successful Qatari offer would give the Gulf nation pride of place in the Premier League, the most watched domestic league in the world, just months after hosting the 2022 World Cup.
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However, Sheikh Jassim is the son of Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, a former prime minister of Qatar, and his close ties to the ruling class of the gulf state raise concerns about another Premier League club receiving state funding.
The outside bidder is Finnish tycoon Thomas Zilliacus, who recently stated that his offer from the second round of bidding still stood despite calling the drawn-out selling process a “farce.”