DUBAI: Rumors of Manchester United Buyout Denied by Saudi Arabia

MARGARET RAY WRITES– Rumors that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, intends to buy Premier League football club Manchester United  were quelled by the Kingdom’s Media Minister, Turki Al-Shabanah, who stated on Monday that the rumors were “completely false.”

“Manchester United held a meeting with the Public Investment Fund (PIF) in Saudi to discuss (a) sponsorship opportunity,” Al-Shabanah said, adding that no deal materialized.  The PIF is Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, with about 200 global investments and assets of around $230 billion as of last year, according to Bloomberg News. Saudi Arabia has been using the money to invest in diverse businesses in an effort to wean the country off of its dependency on oil.

Rumor had it that the crown prince sought to tempt the Glazer family to rescind control of the club. The American family, headed by Mr. Malcolm Glazer, purchased Manchester United for £790 million ($1,029,315,49) almost 14 years ago, which has led to massive financial issues.  As of 2018, Manchester United earned record revenues of £590m, though the Glazers’ debt (…) stands at nearly half a billion, according to the latest financial results.

A bid was first submitted in October of 2018, but Manchester United pulled out of an investment forum in Saudi Arabia amid the fallout from Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s death.

In response to Al-Shabanah’s tweet, many Manchester fans debated the rumors of Saudi takeover.  

Twitter user OpichMufc (@opitza) replied to the post, stating “Please convince him to go ahead and buy. The club needs saving from the greedy Glazers and he’s the only one who can do it.”  

Similarly,  IamEggzy (@unamma_patrick) responded to the tweet “on behalf of Man Utd fans tired of suffering. we beg you to buy the Club from the Glazer Family. @TurkiAlshabanah pass on the prince.”  

Others raised serious political points. Benny Walsh (@Bennywalsh5) argued that  “United fans from the civilized world do not want your blood-stained medieval regime and it’s murderous thugs about the place. You are loathed.”  

After the US condemned Khashoggi’s murder in front of a forum at the United Nation Human Rights Council, recordings released by Turkey officials indicated the murder was premeditated.

Given so much controversy, should Saudi Arabia pursue further communications with Manchester United? As the saying goes, “Politics makes for strange bedfellows.”

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