New information about the campaign to take over Manchester United has revealed that Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani nearly backed out of negotiations after being stunned by the Glazer family.
After nearly two decades as United owners, having assumed full control of the club in 2005, United’s American owners appear poised to sell their prized Premier League pony. However, just a few serious buyers are said to remain in the running, with Sheikh Jassim among those on the elite shortlist.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the chairman of INEOS, is the second rival thought to be opposing the acquisition bid, and the Briton may have found himself without competition at a critical juncture in the negotiations. Jassim ‘chilled negotiations’ after the Glazers abruptly boosted their asking price by more than 10%.
El Pais stated that United’s current owners have set an asking price of £5.2 billion to get out of Old Trafford, which many fans had sought for years. Sheikh Jassim is said to be interested in buying the Red Devils fully, but Ratcliffe is open to a majority purchase in which the Glazers keep a minority stake, at least for the time being.
But Jassim, the son of former Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber bin Mohammed bin Thani Al Thani, was taken aback when the Glazers abruptly increased their offer to about £6 billion in March.
According to reports, the shock caused the Qatari investor to reconsider his position and withdraw from negotiations. Fans may believe that as the conversations reach nine zeroes, money loses a lot of its importance, but an unexpected surge of nearly £800 million was enough to make even Jassim baulk.
He is said to have reclaimed his seat at the table and is back in talks with the Glazers. Following months of speculation over who could unseat the Glazers from United, his latest (and possibly final) effort to buy the club was billed as a ‘take it or leave it’ deal.
Fans and experts have both warned against another high-ranking member of a Gulf country acquiring control of another Premier League club. Manchester City and Newcastle United are unofficially owned by officials from Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, respectively, both of which have been chastised for their human rights histories and equality views.
Many United fans will be relieved to see someone other than the Glazers in charge, as the sale process enters a critical stage ahead of the summer months. Sheikh Jassim remains a strong contender to take over at the Theatre of Dreams, despite an almost disastrous bid.