Manchester United ownership saga: a patient waiting game

Lea Hogg 2 weeks ago
Manchester United ownership saga: a patient waiting game

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani (pictured on the left) and Sir Jim Ratcliffe (pictured on the right with his brother Bob Ratcliffe), are willing to be patient in their efforts to buy Manchester United, as the process has now stretched to nearly 10 months since the Glazers indicated their intention to sell Manchester Football Club.

Well-connected Qatari vs low-key billionaire

While Sheikh Jassim’s team is uncertain about whether the Glazers still want to sell the club, Ratcliffe’s representatives are more confident that a sale is on the horizon. Neither Sheikh Jassim nor Ratcliffe have set a specific timeline for a resolution.

A recent report suggested that the Glazers are holding out for a higher bid, possibly as high as £10 billion, and may wait until 2025 to sell when increased television rights revenue and the expansion of the Club World Cup could increase the club’s value. However, there has been no official confirmation or denial of this report.

The share price of Manchester United took a significant hit, dropping by 18.2 percent, following the publication of the report, marking the largest single-day decline since the club was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012.

Last November, the Glazers announced they were exploring strategic alternatives for the club, indicating a potential end to their controversial ownership, which began in 2005.

Sheikh Jassim has made several bids for the club, with his most recent offer in June not exceeding £6 billion. Ratcliffe’s offer is to acquire a little over 50 percent of United, potentially leaving some Glazer family members as minority owners. Both parties are awaiting a response from the Raine Group, the US bank overseeing the sale.

In other news, Manchester United has confirmed a sponsorship deal with US technology company Qualcomm, which will see its Snapdragon brand replace TeamViewer on the front of the club’s shirts starting next season. This development has led some to speculate that a takeover may not be imminent. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is believed to be a three-year contract worth £60 million annually.

Heated battle reported in June

In June it was reported that Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani’s was close to completing the acquisition of the football club. At this time, the Glazer family had been looking for a buyer for eight months, sparking one of football’s most significant takeover battles. The announcement in the Qatari press at that time stated that Sheikh Jassim’s successful bid for Manchester United was imminent.

Bloomberg also reported that Sheikh Jassim’s final bid exceeded US $6.3 billion. In contrast, British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe had proposed acquiring a 60 percent stake, allowing the Glazer family to retain partial ownership.

Manchester United did not make any comment.

Background of the bidders

Sheikh Jassim’s vision includes restoring the club to its “former glory” through sustainable investments in players and infrastructure via the Nine Two Foundation. The bid is debt-free, valuing the club at approximately US $4.5 billion, with no state of Qatar involvement.

Sheikh Jassim, born in 1978 and educated in the UK, possesses extensive business acumen, previously representing Qatari investors at Credit Suisse. Meanwhile, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, with an estimated net worth of US $30 billion, chairs INEOS Chemicals Group and holds a deep-rooted connection to Manchester United.

The outcome of this high-stakes bidding war is eagerly anticipated by all stakeholders.

And on the Everton front

On the Everton front, the potential takeover by 777 Partners is uncertain. However, the club has secured a £100 million loan to support the construction of their new stadium at the Bramley Moore dock site, easing short-term financial pressures. The club intends to complete the project with a new funding package.

Whether Farhad Moshiri or 777 Partners will ultimately lead Everton is unclear, as they are in advanced takeover talks. Concerns revolve around whether 777 Partners, a Miami-based firm that owns several clubs, has the necessary funds to buy out Moshiri and complete the stadium project. Everton also has a loan facility with Rights and Media Funding Limited, extending to £200 million this year. Moshiri, who has invested over £750 million in Everton since 2016, is looking to recoup a significant portion of his investment.

It’s worth noting that the Premier League has introduced stricter tests for directors and owners, and they are scrutinizing 777’s finances while considering a past legal issue involving co-founder Josh Wander, who recently joined the board of the European Club Association.

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