Qatari Sheikh revokes US$6 billion bid for Manchester United – opening door for UK billionaire James Ratcliffe


Qatari official Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani has withdrawn his bid for Premier League team Manchester United, several outlets reported Saturday, the latest twist for the club’s current billionaire American owners pursuing the largest-ever sale of a soccer team.
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Manchester United home stadium Old Trafford last year. Getty Images

Key Facts

Sheikh Jassim, who submitted a $6 billion bid for Manchester United to the Glazer family earlier this year, believed the Americans’ more than $7 billion asking price was far too rich considering the team is valued at $3.3 billion on the open market, through its publicly listed shares on the New York Stock Exchange, sources told ESPN.

There remains a possibility that Sheikh Jassim will re-enter negotiations at a lower price, according to the Guardian and Sky News.

The withdrawal leaves James Ratcliffe, the United Kingdom’s richest person, as the only other known prospective buyer of Manchester United, though recent Bloomberg reports suggest the billionaire may only buy a 25% stake in the team at first, keeping the Glazers heavily involved.

Ratcliffe’s bid also values Manchester United at about $6 billion, in line with Forbes’ valuation of the club, which is the second most-valuable soccer team in the world, trailing only Spain’s Real Madrid.

Forbes Valuations

Ratcliffe’s $18.7 billion fortune makes him the 87th-wealthiest man in the world, according to Forbesestimates, owing his riches to his petrochemicals empire Ineos Group. The current generation of Glazers, who also own the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, inherited the $5.4 billion fortune patriarch Malcolm Glazer left upon his death in 2014. Forbes does not have a valuation for Sheikh Jassim, though his father, Qatar’s former ruler Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, has a $1.1 billion fortune.

Key Background

The Glazers announced in November they were mulling a sale of Manchester United. Manchester United, which has a record 13 Premier League championships, has not won a title since 2013, a stretch during which crosstown Manchester City has captured six crowns. The Qatari interest in the club comes at a particularly explosive era for Middle Eastern money in foreign sports, namely Qatar Sports Investments’ ownership of French side Paris Saint-Germain and the Saudi sovereign wealth fund’s ownership of Premier League club Newcastle United and LIV Golf.

What To Watch For

If an agreement is reached, Manchester United will likely set the record for the largest sale of a soccer team ever, topping the more than $3 billion price tag for Premier League rival Chelsea last spring. The largest sports team sale ever was the $6 billion purchase of the NFL’s Washington Commanders

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