A Qatari sheikh – chairman of one of the country’s biggest banks – on Friday night lodged a bid for Manchester United, promising to restore ‘former glories on and off the pitch’.
Ahead of Friday night’s 10pm deadline for offers, Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Jaber Al Thani, son of a former Prime Minister, announced his intention to acquire ‘100 per cent of the club’.
Last week, Sportsmail revealed that the bid would be forthcoming and, in a bold statement, Al Thani said he would invest in the club, the stadium, the training ground and the community.
‘The vision of the bid is for Manchester United Football Club to be renowned for footballing excellence, and regarded as the greatest football club in the world,’ he added.
The battle for the Premier League giants now enters its next, critical, stage.
Qatar has lodged its bid for Man United, promising to restore ‘glories on and off the pitch’
Bidding ends at 10pm midnight tonight with the Glazers looking for between £4bn and £6bn
While Raine Group, the US merchant bank handling the process, remained tight-lipped, it is thought that Al Thani, son of ex-PM Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, will face opposition from bidders in the US, Asia and potentially neighbouring Saudi. Britain’s richest man, United supporter Sir Jim Ratcliffe has also announced that he would be bidding.
Sheikh Hamad Bin-Jaber al-Thani, known as HBJ, also served as foreign minister, headed the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) in the 2000s when stakes were taken in Canary Wharf, the Shard, Chelsea Barracks and the Berkeley and Connaught hotels.
While – as this newspaper reported – ten Hag would be armed with a huge transfer budget, there would also be a big focus on the youth system. It is also understood that investment in the surrounding area would also be on the agenda should the offer be successful.
Those who lodged bids will now be narrowed into serious contenders ahead of a sale which officials are hoping could be completed by the end of next month.
Erik ten Hag spoke on the deal yesterday after drawing 2-2 to Barcelona in the Europa League
The manager said the players and the club are following it but are focusing on football
Al Thani’s statement read: ‘The bid plans to return the club to its former glories both on and off the pitch, and – above all – will seek to place the fans at the heart of Manchester United Football Club once more.
‘The bid will be completely debt free via Sheikh Jassim’s Nine Two Foundation, which will look to invest in the football teams, the training centre, the stadium and wider infrastructure, the fan experience and the communities the club supports.
‘The vision of the bid is for Manchester United Football Club to be renowned for footballing excellence, and regarded as the greatest football club in the world.’
The saga is the talk of the Old Trafford dressing room, with manager Erik ten Hag yesterday disclosing that he and his players were closely following the situation.
Ten Hag said his side were ‘enjoying their togetherness’ ahead of the EFL Cup Final on Sunday
Ten Hag has been kept informed of developments by United’s chief executive Richard Arnold, and has already been told that a takeover would release more transfer funds.
‘We are following it – it’s our club,’ said Ten Hag. ‘Of course, we are committed but we are focusing on football, on training and our way of play, and games.
Ten Hag’s side, who drew 2-2 at Barcelona on Thursday night in the Europa League, are on a decent run and sit third in the table, five points behind neighbours City.
After going 1-0 down, Marcus Rashford found the net once again to bring Man United level
‘We are enjoying our togetherness at the moment, he added. ‘It’s really enjoyable to work and we are focusing on games and we are in four competitions. Others in the club will have to make decisions and give efforts in the process, but it’s not up to us.’
The Dutchman said he was being kept in the loop on the potential sale.
‘From the start, they (the club) informed me how the process will go. I focus on football, they are focusing on other parts – departments of the club and how to get everything financed.’
The club’s owners, the Glazers, are also open to investment in exchange for a minority stake. However, it is thought a full sale is most likely, with those behind the Qatari bid confident that they will prevail.