Manchester United sale: Qatar bid for football club to be submitted as deadline looms


February 17 is the deadline for the first round of offers to buy Manchester United.

United’s owners, the Glazer family, are considering selling the club as they “explore strategic alternatives.”

So far there has been only one public statement from businessman Sir Jim Ratcliffe and there is uncertainty over interest in the Premier League club from Qatar.

Who has already placed a bet?

Despite speculation that United did not attract the interest expected by their owners, insiders said the process had been positive.

As they said in their announcement of a potential sale in November, the Glazer family is still considering “all strategic alternatives” for the club, which could include new investments or other transactions involving the company.

Lifelong United fan Ratcliffe, who is one of Britain’s richest men, is said to be keen on his interests and is known to have enlisted the services of banking giants JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs to help him.

However, there is a growing feeling that Qatar’s bid will go ahead, even if it is difficult.

What would Qatar’s proposal look like?

The final round of bidding was originally planned for March by the US-based Raine Group, which is tasked with finding new owners or investors.

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is set to be a key figure in any Qatar takeover bid, even if he will not have a direct stake in the club.

Qatar Sports Investment (QSI), led by Al-Khelaifi, was considering buying a smaller stake in the Premier League club, which would be allowed under Uefa rules that prohibit ownership of multiple clubs. QSI already owns a minority stake in the Portuguese Braga.

However, given that QSI owns PSG, which it has no interest in selling, any move by Qatar to buy United outright would have to be made through private individuals or another entity.

Potentially, it could be the Qatar Investment Authority – a global investment platform that includes the London department store Harrods and the largest building in Great Britain, the Shard, in its portfolio.

Even that could require European governing body UEFA to change the dual ownership rules, as many believe that all Qatari funds are distributed from a centralized source.

As such, Al Khelaifi can play a key role in facilitating any bid.

Why is Al-Khelaifi key?

Al-Khelafi, 49, took a more prominent position in football’s political circles when he refused to commit PSG to the European Super League.

This decision is seen as one of the main reasons why UEFA was able to oppose the plan.

Since then, Al-Khelaifi has headed the European Club Association and developed a close relationship with UEFA president Oleksandr Ceferin.

It is believed to be impossible that any Qatari bid for United could have been made without his knowledge.

United and PSG are not competing in the same competition this season, so any amendments to UEFA regulations that would allow Qatar to own Old Trafford would not need to be activated until the end of July. It must then be approved by the UEFA Executive Committee.

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