The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is interested in buying Manchester United. He values the club below the Glazer family’s £6bn price and there is recognition Uefa may have to agree to a regulation change as the country’s ruler already owns Paris Saint-Germain.
The Emir bought PSG in 2011 through Qatar Sports Investment. UEFA’s current rules do not allow clubs with the same ownership to face each other in one of its competitions, so Qatar’s United and Qatar’s PSG would not be allowed to compete in a Champions League play-off if such a fixture were to occur.
While United’s purchase is being explored, those running the Qatari interest are believed to be aware of UEFA rules and a solution is being sought. This could include trying to persuade Uefa to consider modifying or changing its regulations
The Glazer family put United up for sale in November, announcing it was “initiating a process to explore strategic alternatives”, which could spell the end of its 17-year ownership of the club. The Raine Group, which oversaw the sale of Chelsea, was appointed as the exclusive financial adviser and believed £6bn was required for the 20-time English champions. However, the Emir believes that a more realistic price is £4.5 billion.
Billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s richest men, confirmed last month that his company Ineos was bidding to buy United. Ratcliffe, 70, was born in Failsworth, now part of Greater Manchester, and is a lifelong United fan.
Amnesty International has described Qatar’s interest in United as “another wake-up call” for the Premier League over the strengthening of its ownership rules.
“After the World Cup and the Qatari government’s strenuous efforts to create a shiny new image for the country, it seems highly likely that any Qatari bid for Manchester United would be a continuation of this state-backed sports laundering project,” said Peter Frankental, Amnesty’s director of economic affairs UK. “In the run-up to the World Cup, we have seen only limited reforms to the rights of migrant workers in Qatar and no movement to end the shameful criminalization of LGBTQ+ people or institutional discrimination against women.
“It is almost 18 months since Saudi Arabia’s highly controversial takeover of Newcastle United and a Qatari bid for Manchester United would be another wake-up call to the Premier League over the need to reform its ownership rules. We are not necessarily opposed to the involvement of state-owned overseas financial consortia in English football, but the Premier League urgently needs to strengthen ownership rules to ensure they are consistent with human rights and not an opportunity for greater sport.”
What have Manchester United won under the Glazers?
Although unpopular with Manchester United supporters, the Glazer family’s early reign at the club was littered with success.
In fact, only Chelsea (18) and Manchester City (14) have won more trophies among English clubs than United’s 13 since the takeover was completed.
However, only three of those have come since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, and it is now nine years since the club lifted the Premier League title.