United’s American ownership of the Glazer family has not been the best of times for the club, with frequent fan-led protests, haphazard player recruitment and not a lot of positivity.
So it is understandable why the Red Devil fan base was ecstatic when news came that multiple bids had come in for a transfer of ownership. Jim Ratcliffe, the richest man in Britain is one of the bidders. Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani is another.
The Sheikh confirmed this in an official announcement.
Al Thani is not one of those who is looking to buy any club. He has had a long-held interest in United, having been a fan since the 1990s, when he studied in England.
If he were to actually acquire the Manc club, the state of Qatar would have another behemoth of football under their control, the other one being PSG.
With such a move in the offing, there are bound to be proponents and opponents.
Earlier this year, when this move was just being hinted at, a United fan club called Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) released a joint, and dare we say, racist, statement alongside Liverpool fan club Spirit of Shankly discouraging a takeover of these legacy clubs by someone like Qatar.
While a lot has happened since the stance of many has remained the same.
The benefits of such a takeover are obvious. Just look at PSG. The club now boasts a roster of stars that others can only envy. And have conquered almost everything barring the elusive Champions League, but even that looks like a matter of time.
In contrast, the downsides are deeper in nature and are not even football related. They speak to the legacy and the culture. United is a club basked in history and heritage, and to let this fall into the hands of oil-money Gulf owners just does not sit right with people.
Add to that the controversial laws in these countries and it gets worse. The 2022 World Cup that was held in Qatar came with its fair share of humanitarian and discriminatory issues.
Should a club as big as this even be owned by people who still think LGTBQ+ is illegitimate or who treat humans like slaves?
That was the question asked by Miguel Delaney, the chief football writer for The Independent.
Delaney is a sports journalist from the United Kingdom who writes primarily about football. He has worked for a number of well-known media outlets, including The Independent, ESPN, and The Guardian, and is known for his in-depth analysis and coverage of football events and culture.
He is firmly in Team “No” when it comes to a Qatar takeover, and even published an article in support of his argument.
In the article, Delaney points fingers at the Gulf authorities and uses an incident from the World Cup as an example of why Middle-East ownership will not be good for Premier League and Manchester United.
To this, Mohammed Saeed Alkaabi, a famous sports journalist from Qatar replied questioning the authenticity of the article and how the takeover is all but inevitable.
My friend, don’t talk about things you don’t know. I note that you are one of the strongest opponents of the Qatari takeover of Manchester United. But I’d like to assure you, we’ll be doing a total acquisition soon— محمد الكعبي (@Qatari) February 20, 2023
That’s not all. His tweet got an explosive reaction from others as well, with many flooding his DMs with hate comments.
These are not the only tweets by him. He has routinely accused Qatar of using the World Cup first, and now United, as vehicles for sportswashing.
But the worst part is, he himself is working for an organization that comes under indirect ownership of Saudi Arabia.
Writing against a Gulf takeover while being under Gulf ownership does not make sense.
Additionally, it is a widely different stance he is taking now than a few years ago when talking about the same topic but with respect to Liverpool.
As a journalist, you’re expected to report on facts first and foremost, and then your opinions.
That is not to say that Delaney is wrong.
Sure, his opinion has upset many but then again, whose opinion is 100% agreed upon nowadays?
Delaney may be fishing for clicks, or he may be hypocritical, but he needs to be more respectful of what he’s sending out given his stature and reach.
Taking a stance is good. It is needed, even. Some need to play the devil’s advocate so that a proper debate and discussion can happen over whether an action should be taken or not.
Delaney has bit the bullet and gone all-out against Qatari owners.
Should their bid be unsuccessful, he stands a lot to gain.
But should they take over Old Trafford, a few very tough weeks will await the journalist.