The Manchester United takeover drama took a wild turn on Friday, which was the ‘soft deadline’ for interested buyers to make their offers to buy out the Glazer Family.
Ever since the American businessmen voiced their interest in selling out their stakes in the club, a lot of rumours have spread over potentially interested parties.
But on Friday, some of the rumours were proven to be true. A few parties officially launched their bids to buy out the Red Devils.
One is INEOS owner and Britain’s richest man Jim Radcliffe. USA firm Elliott Investment Management Fund have also showcased a desire to potentially finance a takeover.
However, the bid which really has the majority of the United fanbase and the footballing world talking is that made by Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani.
He is the son of the former Emir of Qatar and the elder brother of the current Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
In the official statement confirming the bid to buy out the Red Devils, Al Thani indicated that he wants to acquire the entire 100 per cent of the club.
He also wants to get United back to its past glories and made some very impressive promises if he takes over the club.
A matchgoing Man United fan
Al Thani has been a United fan since the 1990s. He incurred a love for the club during his years in England, where he had his education.
He did his schooling at the Royal Military Academy school in Sandhurst. Jassim went to the International College in Dorset after that. In that period, he often travelled to Old Trafford for matches and became a big fan of United.
Al Thani also developed his own charitable foundation in a tribute to United. His Nine Two Foundation, which is the company aiming for control of the club, was actually inspired by United’s Class of 92 – which gave rise to players like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and David Beckham.
Jassim is currently also the Chairman of the Qatar International Bank (QIB) and is among the wealthiest people in his country. The QIB also has branches in the UK and has also been a board member in the Credit Suisse Group Zurich.
He is a part of the Qatari Royal Family and Forbes estimated that his net worth is about £1.08bn. However, his entire family is worth about £275bn.
Can Qatar own Man U and PSG at the same time?
However, after Al Thani’s representatives made it clear that he wishes to buy the Premier League side, fans are confused over whether he could create a bit of a conflict of interest. UEFA has some stringent rules on one owner owning two European clubs, especially for those competing in their competitions.
In 1998, when Sparta Prague and AEK Athens both qualified for the UEFA Cup with a multi-club model – basically having the same owners.
In the end, a rule was created to ban two clubs with the same majority shareholders (or owner) from competing with each other in a UEFA competition. As a result, multiple clubs with the same owner can’t qualify for UEFA competitions because of the chances of facing each other.
Some are worried that if the Qatari banker takes over United, then they could be victims of this rule too. That is because Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani’s young brother, the Emir of Qatar, has been the owner of PSG since 2011.
The Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) company has been in control of the Ligue 1 giants and has broken multiple transfer records, putting in incredible investment to make them among Europe’s biggest clubs. While there is some worry that this rule could make it difficult for Qatar to take over United, that shouldn’t be the case.
PSG is owned by QSI and Al Thani’s latest bid for the Red Devils is using his Nine Two Foundation. Moreover, the QSI and QBI are not the same entities either and work in different sectors altogether. Even though they might be owned by members of the same Qatar Royal Family, the companies that could own United and PSG are different and hence a conflict of interest should not arise.
As a result, the family could actually own both the clubs without major repercussions because they aren’t owned by the same company or even the same owner – with the Emir owning PSG and the QIB Chairman looking over United.
UEFA can, of course, block this potential sale from going through if they feel it violates their rules or threatens to disrupt the ‘integrity’ of the game. It remains to be seen if UEFA do that or if the Glazers are even ready to sell to the Qatari owners to script a new chapter in the history of Man United.