The chances of a Qatari takeover of Manchester United appear to be dimming after a report emerged saying that the current owners of the British soccer club, the Glazer brothers, are in favor of a new investment in the team that would allow them to remain in charge.
The Glazers said in November 2022 that they were looking at “all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale or other transactions” to raise the funds required to transform the team, the training ground and Old Trafford stadium.
Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani, a banker and son of a former Qatari prime minister, was the favorite to take over Manchester United after talks progressed to the third round in April. Britain’s richest man, Jim Ratcliffe, was also in the running. Thani’s second bid was understood to be a world-record offer of more than £5 billion ($6.18 billion) for the Red Devils, but the Glazers have asked for £6 billion for the club. The Sun reported on March 25 that Thani was also going to offer to form a joint venture with the Glazers that could see NFL games play in the Middle East in a bid to add a sweetener to the offer. The Glazers own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team and expanding in the Middle East would present a significant opportunity to further monetize the franchise.
But ESPN, citing a source familiar with the discussions, reported Monday that the Glazer family, who have owned Manchester United since 2005, might be looking to hold on to the club and double its value. The source told the network that Avram and Joel Glazer believe that they can double the value of the club, making it worth at least £10 billion.
In addition to Jassim and Ratcliffe, four investment funds expressed interest in investing in the team, the network said. Elliot Investment Management, Ares Management Corporation, Sixth Street Partners and The Carlyle Group were all looking to secure a stake and had expressed their interest with Raine Group, the US bank overseeing the process, prior to the April 28 deadline for third bids, ESPN reported. Instead of selling the soccer team outright, the Glazers could sell a minority stake in the club to a fund in return for an injection of capital.
A sports financing expert told Al-Monitor in March that the “sale process” could be used by the Glazers to drum up interest for the club to raise its value before looking to sell it at a higher price later down the line.
“I think the theory that’s in the back of a lot of people’s minds is this could eventuate to become more of a fishing exercise for the Glazers to take on potentially more finance to redevelop the club so that they can reinvest and capture the incremental value and then maybe sell the club in five to 10 years’ time,” said Neil Joyce, CEO and co-founder of the CLV Group.
He said at the time that Manchester United only monetizes around 1% of its 1.1 billion fans, which contributes to at least £700 million ($850 million) in revenue.
Source : Al Monitor