The race to control Manchester United It escalated on Saturday as British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe formally challenged a Qatari bank for owning England’s football powerhouse.
Ratcliffe has already expressed interest in United a few weeks ago and his company INEOS followed the Qatari offer by officially submitting their own offer.
But the competition for the record 20-time English champion may be more than a two-horse race.
On Saturday, the Times reported that the American hedge company Elliott made a bid – but not a full use of the type planned by Ratcliffe and Qatari rival Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani.
United are now owned by the Glazer family in America – and the cost of buying one of the world’s most iconic football teams is expected to reach the $6 billion.
The 70-year-old Ratcliffe is keen to expand a sporting portfolio that already includes French football club Nice and Swiss side FC Lausanne-Sport, as well as cycling team Ineos Grenadiers, former Team Sky.
“We can confirm that Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS have submitted a bid for the majority ownership of Manchester United Football Club,” Ineos said in a statement to AFP.
Ratcliffe, born in Failsworth, Greater Manchester, is one of Britain’s richest men, with a net worth of £12.5 billion ($15 billion) after successful INEOS, his global chemical company.
The young United fan has vowed to restore Old Trafford to being the “number one club in the world” after 10 years without a Premier League win.
The group also pledged to be “long-term supporters of Manchester United on behalf of the fans and the wider community”.
“We want Manchester United to be anchored in its proud history and roots in the North-West of England, return Manchester United to Manchester United and focus clearly on winning the Champions League.”
US Merchant Bank the Raine Group is handling the sale on behalf of the Glazers.
A deal worth about $6 billion will wipe out the record value for a major league baseball club after the private equity firm led by LA Dodgers manager Todd Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital bought the Chelsea last year.
US involvement in the Premier League is likely to increase, with The Times claiming that Elliott, the former manager of Italian football team AC Milan, has made an “eleventh hour” for United.
The Times, citing unnamed sources, added that Elliott, who controls $56 billion (£46 billion) in assets, had ruled himself out of the full use of United, but offered to provide the financing for a tender – this can include debt financing.
But that will provoke a bitter reaction from United fans, many of whom are angry at the Glazers who have saddled the club with huge debts in their £790 million 2005 deal.
In contrast, Sheikh Jassim, the chairman of the Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) announced a “completely debt-free” bid launched through his Nine Two Foundation, promising investment in the team and the old Old Trafford, as well as the facilities, the “fan experience.” and “community supported by the club”
The 41-year-old, who was educated at Britain’s elite Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, is also said to be a long-time fan of United.
The Glazer family announced in November that they were open to a sale or investment in United and fueled talk of a price war between Qatari and Saudi Arabian interests.
United shares rose nearly two percent in after-hours trading on the New York Stock Exchange after the Qatari announcement. They closed down 1.9 percent on Friday.
Saudi Arabia has also been linked with a bid but any investment in the United States would cause outrage from human rights groups, who have spoken out against the Gulf state after the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. .
The Qataris will protest on similar grounds, with Peter Frankental, Amnesty UK’s director of economic affairs, saying it will represent “the continuation of this state-sponsored sports project.” “.
Qatar has already invested in a European football heavyweight and Qatari investment QSI bought the French champion PSG in 2011.
The Daily Telegraph reported sources close to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) are downplaying the possibility of a state-backed bid due to their current involvement with Premier League club Newcastle. United.
United, one of the most successful clubs in the history of English football, have failed to win any silverware since 2017, struggling to match rivals Manchester City since the retirement of the manager Alex Ferguson in 2013.
United sit third in the Premier League, after improving form under manager Erik ten Hag, who took charge before the start of the current campaign.
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