Manchester United negotiating exclusivity with Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani in $6 Billion sale talks

Manchester United is said to be in negotiations to grant exclusive sale rights to a consortium led by Qatar's Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani. According to Reuters, the prospective deal could exceed $6 billion, marking a record sale price in the sports world.

shutterstock 1644293686 Large
Front view of Old Trafford

The proposed acquisition represents a significant milestone for Sheikh Jassim, the son of Qatar’s former prime minister and one of the wealthiest men in the Gulf nation. Long-time minority stakeholders, the Glazer family, would reportedly cash out of the club, seemingly favouring the Qatari offer over a rival bid from British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of chemical producer INEOS.

The precise duration of the proposed exclusivity period, during which Manchester United would not be allowed to negotiate with any other potential buyer, remains unclear. Moreover, the situation is still fluid, with a potential new offer from Ratcliffe having the potential to disrupt Sheikh Jassim’s exclusivity.

This prospective acquisition has had an immediate impact on the club’s shares, which surged by as much as 15%, ending trading on the New York Stock Exchange up 6.8% at $24.81 following the news.

The acquisition, if it goes ahead, would follow in the wake of the NFL’s Washington Commanders’ sale earlier this year, which also approached a value of $6 billion. In comparison to recent football club acquisitions, this deal would represent a substantial premium. By contrast, Chelsea Football Club was acquired last year by an investment group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital for $3.1 billion, valuing the club at 5.7 times its revenue for the previous financial year.

The Glazer family, who have made their fortune in real estate, retail, and healthcare and also own the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, purchased Manchester United for £790 million ($1 billion) back in 2005. The club, which boasts a worldwide fanbase of over 650 million according to market research firm Kantar, has seen its fortunes decline under the Glazers, with the club having won just one of their 20 top-flight titles since Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013.

Despite the potential financial boost a Qatari owner might provide, there has been a measure of concern expressed by a section of fans due to Qatar’s human rights record. The issue of “sportswashing” – countries seeking to improve their international image through large-scale investments in sports – has been a point of contention in recent years, particularly with Middle Eastern nations.

The potential acquisition of Manchester United by Qatari interests comes in the wake of Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, and state-run Qatar Sports Investments owning Ligue 1 club Paris St Germain. Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund recently merged with the PGA Tour and now bankrolls Premier League team Newcastle United.

For Manchester United, a club once synonymous with success, this potential deal could mark a significant turning point in their journey to reclaim their position at the pinnacle of English football.

 

More from Qonversations

Sports

20240213 231424

Ghanaians hit the streets for #SaveGhanaFootball protest

Sports

Everything you need to know about the Asian Cup

Sports

2023 11 18T142413Z 1020680121 RC2NF4ALX6E1 RTRMADP 3 CRICKET WORLDCUP INDIA 1

India and Australia begin T20 series after intense World Cup encounter

News

2023 11 19T095141Z 1901904260 UP1EJBJ0RE3AM RTRMADP 3 CRICKET WORLDCUP IND AUS

Australia beats host India at Cricket World Cup final

Front of mind