Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani could receive exclusive negotiating rights for the Glazers’ Man United sale, handing him pole position to take control of the iconic club.
Manchester United fans drew closer on Thursday to realizing their long-held dream of #GlazersOut. Reuters exclusively reported that the Premier League football club and the family that has owned its controlling stake since 2005 are discussing an exclusive negotiating window for a potential sale with Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar. If consummated, the transaction is expected to be worth upwards of $6 billion, giving it a chance to become the most expensive team sale in the history of pro sports.
Though this exclusivity has not been confirmed as of this writing, such a move would make the 44-year-old Qatari billionaire a truly prohibitive favorite in the race to buy one of the most valuable teams in global sport.
Amid protracted Man United sale rumors, a long-discussed candidate has been Jim Ratcliffe, Chairman and CEO of London-based chemical company INEOS Group Limited. Reuters reports that his takeover pitch currently lacks favor in that he intended for the Glazer family to retain some manner of stake in the club, while the Sheikh Jassim bid is understood to buy them out of their equity entirely.
Who is Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar?
A leading member of the House of Thani that controls Qatar, Sheikh Jassim is the son of Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who served as the nation’s Emir — think “head of state,” but with more than just a touch of monarchy — from 1995 to 2013 before abdicating the role. Though he was previously heir apparent to the throne, Jassim removed himself from the line of succession in 2003.
The Glazer family took over Manchester United, routinely recognized as one of the most popular sports teams in the world, in 2005 when Malcolm Glazer purchased nearly 30% of the organization at an overall valuation of approximately $1.5 billion. Under their tenure, the club won five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one EFL Cup, and a UEFA Champions League crown.
Today, the “Red Devils” are estimated to be worth approximately $6 billion, but since such a significant portion of the Glazers’ purchasing capital was borrowed, they’ve carried a significant debt load in the years since.
Propped up by a petroleum-backed largesse in the form of the sovereign Qatar Investment Authority and its Qatar Sports Investments (QSi) arm — which also owns French champions Paris Saint-Germain and sports television company beIN Media Group — Sheikh Jassim won’t have that problem.
Boy-oh-boy will he ever not.
Whether Man United fans will ultimately consider his arrival a win, well, that’s a far more uncomfortable question we won’t attempt to answer just yet.
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