Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim Withdraws Bid To Buy Man Utd

A source close to the deal informed AFP on Saturday that Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani had dropped his offer to acquire Manchester United.

United said about a year ago that they were looking into “strategic alternatives to enhance the club’s growth,” including a full sale.

After numerous rounds of bidding early this year, Sheikh Jassim and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe were the front-runners, but the process has frozen in recent months, despite supporters’ displeasure at the existing owners, the Glazer family.

The Daily Mail reported that Ratcliffe is now set to secure a 25 percent stake in the club for around £1.5 billion ($1.7 billion).

The Glazers have owned the English giants since a leveraged takeover in 2005 for £790 million saddled the club with huge debts.

Figures in March showed United’s debt has now grown to £970 million.

Sheikh Jassim’s bid was for full control of United and promised to clear the club’s borrowings.

Further talks this week broke down despite an improved bid believed to be around £5 billion.

Ratcliffe, on the other hand, is said to be willing to buy a smaller portion in order to break the impasse over the Glazers’ £6 billion asking price.

Ratcliffe, the founder of petrochemicals behemoth Ineos, grew up a Manchester United supporter and already has a sports investing portfolio.

Ineos owns Nice in France and Lausanne-Sport in Switzerland, as well as the leading cycling team Ineos Grenadiers and is a key sponsor of the Mercedes Formula One team.

United’s fortunes on the field have also faded under the Glazers’ tenure.

The Red Devils have not won the Premier League since former manager Alex Ferguson stepped down in 2013, and their last Champions League victory came in 2008.

They are now tenth in the Premier League and, for the first time in the club’s history, have lost their first two Champions League group stage matches.

Fans have also been dissatisfied with United’s lack of infrastructural investment over the last two decades.

Old Trafford remains England’s largest club football stadium, although it requires considerable redevelopment to compete with rivals’ facilities.

Manchester United’s stadium was passed up in favor of Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium in the UK and Ireland’s successful bid to host Euro 2028.

The Sheikh Jassim agreement reportedly included $1.7 billion in financing for a new stadium and training center, as well as player transfer market investment.

The proposal by the son of a former Qatari prime minister, on the other hand, prompted concerns about the potential expansion of state power in the Premier League.

City’s fortunes have changed dramatically since taking over from Sheikh Mansour, a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family, in 2008.

In 2021, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund also bought a controlling stake in Newcastle.

Amnesty International has urged the Premier League to strengthen ownership restrictions in order to prevent “more sportswashing.”

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