Saudi interest in Man Utd takeover confirmed after minister's promise to support to bid
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Interest from Saudi Arabia in buying Manchester United has been confirmed by a new report, with five 'serious' bidders said to be remaining in the race to take over the club.
The Glazer family announced they were searching for 'strategic alternatives' for United in November, and were open to a full or partial sale of the club as part of that process.
Since then, the Sir Jim Ratcliffe-owned Ineos company has formally declared its intention to enter the bidding process. Ratcliffe is a boyhood United fan, and Ineos also holds a one-third stake in the Mercedes F1 team and owns Ligue 1 side Nice.
Earlier this week, the Daily Mail reported that Qatari investors were planning a bid for United within days, although the Qatar Sports Investments (QSi) ownership of PSG is seen as a potential caveat in any talks. The Guardian revealed that the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is a leading figure behind the plans.
But a report from The Athletic claimed that, as per sources, Qatar 'expects' a consortium from Saudi Arabia to join the bidding race.
Saudi Arabia's sports minister confirmed interest in United or Liverpool in an interview with BBC Sport during the World Cup, and said the state would support a private sector bid if one was to be made.
Saudi interest in United 'confirmed', takeover contenders now revealed
Speaking in December, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal said: "From the private sector, I can't speak on their behalf, but there is a lot of interest and appetite and there's a lot of passion about football.
"It's the most-watched league in Saudi and the region and you have a lot of fans of the Premier League.
"We will definitely support it if any [Saudi] private sector comes in, because we know that's going to reflect positively on sports within the kingdom. But if there's an investor willing to do so and the numbers add up, why not?"
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail report that the Glazers have set a 'soft deadline' for offers of next Sunday, February 19, with five investors said to be in the race.
Alongside Ineos and the Qatari interest, US-based investors are also said to be keen on taking over United.
In addition, it is understood that multiple parties from Saudi Arabia, though not with any connections to the ownership of Newcastle, are amongst those to have signed confidentiality agreements with United to give them access to the club's financial details. It is unclear, at this stage, as to whether they will submit a formal offer.
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Topics: Manchester United, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Premier League