Manchester United could join rivals Manchester City in selling out to Arab investors. According to an exclusive report in the Sunday Mirror, Qatar Holdings, what the paper describes as "an investment vehicle for the Qatari royal family" are hopeful of a £1.5bn takeover of Manchester United.
With City having been bought by billionaire Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 for a reported £200m, the capture of the Red Devils would further strengthen the grip of Middle Eastern money on the English Premier League. It would also send out a powerful statement of Qatar’s intent as they prepare to host the 2022 World Cup.
Earlier in the month the Qatar Foundation, also owned by the Qatar royal family, bought the sponsorship rights to the Barcelona shirt for five years in a £140m deal, while the Arab state is rapidly buying up London, with Harrods, One Hyde Park and the 13-acre site of the Chelsea Barracks part of its portfolio of investments said to be worth over £3bn. Qatar’s huge wealth is based on the swift growth of its gas industry during the past decade.
The Sunday Mirror says that the chairman of Qatar Holdings, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, also Qatar’s prime minister, is confident a deal can be reached with the Glazers, the controversial American family who bought Manchester United in 2005 for £790m.
United fans have been campaigning for two years against the Glazers, adopting a yellow and green scarf as a symbol of discontent at the way they have, in their view, mismanaged the club. With United posting annual losses of £83m in October, the prospect of replacing the Glazers with Qatar Holdings would be an attractive one for fans from a purely financial viewpoint.