Sheikh Jassim of Qatar retracts his bid to purchase Manchester United.

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Sheikh Jassim of Qatar retracts his bid to purchase Manchester United.

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Almost a year ago, Manchester United announced their exploration of “strategic alternatives to enhance the club’s growth,” with a potential full sale as one of the considered options.

A source familiar with the deal informed AFP on Saturday that Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani has withdrawn his bid to acquire Manchester United. Following several rounds of bidding earlier this year, Sheikh Jassim and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe emerged as the front-runners. However, the process has recently stalled, despite the dissatisfaction of supporters towards the current owners, the Glazer family.

According to the Daily Mail, Ratcliffe is now on track to secure a 25 percent stake in the club for approximately 1.5 billion pounds ($1.7 billion). Since their leveraged takeover in 2005 for £790 million, the Glazers have been the proprietors of the English football giants, burdening the club with significant debts.

As of March, United’s debt has risen to 970 million pounds. While Sheikh Jassim’s bid aimed for full control of the club with promises to clear the borrowings, negotiations faltered this week, despite an improved bid of approximately 5 billion pounds.

Conversely, Ratcliffe reportedly intends to purchase a smaller stake to overcome the deadlock over the Glazers’ 6 billion pounds valuation. As the founder of petrochemicals giant Ineos and a devoted United supporter, Ratcliffe already boasts a portfolio of sports investments, including French club Nice and Swiss side Lausanne-Sport, alongside the renowned cycling team Ineos Grenadiers and major sponsorship of the Mercedes Formula One team.

Notably, Manchester United’s performance on the field has dwindled during the Glazers’ ownership. Despite their once-dominant status, the Red Devils have not clinched the Premier League since the retirement of former manager Alex Ferguson in 2013, and their last Champions League triumph dates back to 2008.

Discontent has also arisen among fans due to a perceived lack of investment in the club’s infrastructure over the past two decades. While Old Trafford remains the largest football stadium in England, it requires substantial redevelopment to keep pace with rival facilities.

The potential acquisition by Sheikh Jassim had raised concerns regarding the potential increase in state influence in the Premier League, reflecting similar transformations seen after the takeovers of reigning champions Manchester City and the recent stake purchase by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund in Newcastle.

Amnesty International has urged the Premier League to strengthen ownership regulations to prevent them from being utilized for “sportswashing” purposes.

Reference:

https://sports.ndtv.com/football/qatars-sheikh-jassim-withdraws-bid-to-buy-manchester-united-4482298

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