Manchester United will announce on Friday which parties have been shortlisted as potential new owners of the club – and the way in which the Qatari investors plan to handle the club’s ownership alongside that of PSG has been revealed in staggering detail by Ben Jacobs.
The Glazers have been in charge of the Red Devils since a 2005 takeover of the club. Buying it for £790m, their regime has not been a popular one. However, the end could soon be in charge with the Glazer family recently putting the club up for sale.
And the soft deadline for parties to make clear their intentions to bid will be announced on Friday.
At that stage, those with an intention to buy, or invest, will only need to prove their income.
However, interest in acquiring arguably the most famous club in world football is likely to be vast.
But arguably the strongest and most fascinating interest comes from Qatari investors.
Indeed, should they emerge as the winning bidder and finalise a takeover, reports claim they have ambitious plans that will make the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City weep.
But not much is known about the actual make-up of the Qatari investors. Furthermore, confusion over what that will mean for Paris Saint-Germain – also owned by Qatari Sports Investment (QSI) – lingers in the event they will be the successful bidder for United.
Explaining the process, TEAMtalk insider Ben Jacobs has spoken at great length. The journalist explains: how the takeover process works and how shortlisted groups will be chosen; Qatari plans should they win the right to take over from the Glazers; and why QSI’s future plans for Paris Saint-German will not be affected if they are the winning bidders.
Jacobs said: “Friday is a so called soft deadline for interested parties to place that offer for Manchester United, it’s a simple process, all they have to do is put in writing their offer, whether or not they want majority, minority or outright stakes in Manchester United, and then show proof of funds.
“And the main aim of the deadline is to separate those who are credible from non credible. A little bit like the Chelsea takeover, which was also handled by the Rain Bank In New York, there have been dozens of interested parties, but how many of them either match the Glazers’ expectations or are credible remains to be seen.
“If everything goes according to plan, and it follows a similar process to Chelsea, then we’re going to see two or three groups shortlisted followed by a preferred bidder. And then if a traditional takeover timescale is applied, that singular group will then enter into a period of exclusivity, to try and acquire Manchester United by at the earliest before the end of the season.
“Now, of course, there could be a singular group that stands out, and therefore the process moves a little bit quicker, or differently.
“But the Glazers will ideally want to see more than one offer in order to assess the landscape, but also potentially pit groups against each other.
“And it’s not unthinkable either, that somebody that isn’t successful will end up pairing with another group that stands a better chance of proceeding.”
So there’s a lot of excitement about Qatar specifically. But we have to be careful not to treat this like transfer, talk and speak of front runners or favourites, because nobody’s actually placed a bid at this point.
“And Friday could be an anticlimax, because ultimately, it’s a soft deadline only!”
Ratcliffe, Qataris and even Saudi Arabian offer could come in for Man Utd
Talking further about the widespread interest in United, Jacobs revealed the amount the Glazers are seeking.
The journalist also reckons some other offers come come to the fore in the battle to acquire the north-west giants.
“We know that the Glazers want supposedly upwards of £6billion. But my understanding is that most of the groups are looking at a lower number than that, which again, is normal this early within the process.
“So we’re going to have to wait and see now who bids on Friday, there might be more public declarations coming forwards. The other thing to point out is the Glazers should be seen with the ‘S’ on the end of their name, because the family themselves are not united at this point as to how they want to proceed.
“And then we know Sir Jim Ratcliffe is the only publicly declared bidder, there are likely to be strong bids from North America, potentially with some overlap from one or two of the names that were involved in the Chelsea process.
“On top of that, we can’t rule out an offer from Saudi Arabia, but it’s Qatar that has drawn all of the attention.
“And my understanding with Qatar is that effectively, the desire to invest or buy Manchester United is driven by the emir, but the actual group that will bid will be a private fund, rather than the Qatar Investment Authority facing it in any kind of leading sense.
“And we also know that QSI who are the owners of PSG are not involved. But when you bid for Manchester United from this part of the world, and in this nature, you’re effectively fulfilling royal or government aims and a sports strategy that involves multiple stakeholders. So there’s had to be some unity behind the scenes between the different parties, even if they’re not directly involved.”
How would a Qatari takeover at Manchester United work?
Explaning the process of a Qatari bid, Jacobs continued: “It now appears that Qatar are going to place an outright bid for Manchester United using a private fund. And if that happens, as expected, it still is likely to be lower than the Glazers so-called desire number.
“But the bid has been referred to as strong and competitive by insiders familiar with those talks. And the group’s been working around the clock because it’s not an easy thing to do to buy a club like Manchester United from this type of country and structure due to the fact that like I said before, whoever front faces it, whoever is actually directly involved in the structure, the actual bids still requires consultancy effectively with people like Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the chairman of QSI, and also heavily involved within PSG.
“So when you come to declaring who is actually a part of the football club, a lot of these names will not be involved, they’ll step back, because they’re not part of the project, but they’re still part of the bid.
“And in a bizarre way, the actual bidding from Qatar for Manchester United might be more complicated than the next steps if they are successful, because the next steps will be about a group trying to win a race and then lay out their vision and then ultimately implement that strategy.
“But the bid to actually get to the point of placing down a number involves far more people. And that’s the thing that’s taking time. That’s the thing that’s creating different routes that they could take different people that they could use, and this is why Qatar are going to be placing a bid, I think very late on Friday, even potentially after Friday, they will use the soft deadline to its maximum degree because this has been an exciting process for those in Qatar behind the scenes but also a very complicated one.
QSI still very much committed to PSG project
Speaking more about QSI’s ongoing commitment to PSG, Jacobs continued: “The first thing to say is that the prospective Qatar bid that’s expected on Friday has got nothing to do with QSI and thus PSG. So in the thinking of those involved, there’s no conflict.
“But also PSG have got their own strategy within the QSI model. And there’s a plan for return on investment around that that will continue regardless of what happens with Manchester United.
“So the Manchester United aspect is about effectively the Emir driving a post World Cup strategy around investment in the Premier League, in order to continue the World Cup legacy and football is deemed to be a vehicle and so is the Premier League because of its global appeal, and having something like the Manchester United brand can be beneficial to a number of Qatar’s sports goals.
“So that’s the Manchester United aspect with PSG is business as usual QSI are not directly involved within anything Manchester United related. And this isn’t about an exit strategy after the World Cup for PSG.
“In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
“PSG are going to have incoming strategic investment by the second quarter in all likelihood of 2023. And at the moment, they have three investment groups two from America, each of which have offered a stake between five and 15%. And all three of those investment groups value PSG at over €4 billion.
“So actually PSGs own value since QSI have taken over has skyrocketed, and one of the three groups is in more advanced discussions and doing quite significant due diligence. And if they’re successful, then PSG will bring on board a strategic advisor and partner that allows their brand to grow in different regions and obviously brings in a big chunk of money, which then allows that football club to develop and challenge even further.
“And that minority investment into PSG shouldn’t be seen as any clue that they’re slowly going to have less of a stake. It’s very much more about off the back of the World Cup.
“QSI the owners of PSG are making sure that they start to build this model around PSG using strategic investment, but also expanding the broader multi club model.
“So we’ve also seen QSI recently buy 23% in Braga, they want to minority invest in at least one other European club, they held talks for minority investment only in an exploratory sense with Daniel Levy, at Tottenham, and this again tells you that off the back of the World Cup before anything was decided there’s been a big direction from the very top in Qatar to go out there and be ambitious and QSI in for an ambitious year.
“And obviously if things don’t come off with Manchester United, but even if they do, there’s nothing stopping QSI still proceeding with this minority investment strategy within the Premier League or elsewhere because they’ve got their own return on investment strategy.
“And as long as there is a structural and personnel difference between anything successful for Manchester United, and QSI, or PSG, then QSI can do anything that they want, in the same way that there’s 11 American owners at the moment of some sort or American investors anyway within the Premier League that different clubs.
“It can be the same for Qatar, as long as the strategy is unified and as long as UEFA and the Premier League are happy, so QSI and PSG should still be seen as their own entity.”
‘Not the end of Paris Saint-Germain’
“This is not the end of PSG. In fact, 2023 is really only the beginning of what the PSG hierarchy has planned. They’ll build that multi-club network there’ll be ambitious with their desire to minority invest in other clubs in order to bolster their network and ultimately their business return and you only have to look at the Braga share price since QSI invested and there’s already an instant spike and return that QSI have been able to bring in and then on top of that with PSG.
“They’re still looking as you would expect to win domestic and European silverware. They’re hopeful of getting Lionel Messi to extend and then away from their football side they’ve got big plans around the redevelopment of the Parc des Princes or moving to a new stadium.”
Jacobs continued: “They want to keep [Lionel] Messi. They’ll bring in strategic investment to spend more and be more sustainable. They’ve already got Braga, and they also want at least one other European club, they’ve spoken to Spurs and they’re looking in South America as well.
“So that doesn’t sound like an outgoing strategy. It sounds like a model that will build and have its own return on investment strategy, regardless of what happens with Manchester United.
“And that is my understanding that this isn’t about replacing PSG with Manchester United because if that was the case, then QSI would be leading on it. And they will be very open that PSG is for sale. It’s the opposite. The Qataris behind this one Manchester United and PSG to coexist separately, and both help fulfill different aims bringing in money, not having an over reliance on oil and gas income, and of course, fulfilling different government sports aims that fall under that broader so called Vision 2030 strategy of which sport is a big part.”