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Manchester United takeover: Key questions answered about potential buyers, transfer impact and how the process works

Sky Sports News' chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol on where we stand with the potential sale of Man Utd; four bids, including one from Qatari investors, expected before Friday's 10pm deadline; Glazers want £5bn for club valued at £2.9bn on New York Stock Exchange

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Kaveh Solhekol gives his thoughts as it is expected that investors linked to Qatari royalty are set to bid for Manchester United.

Who will bid for Manchester United?

I was told to expect three or four serious bids for 100 per cent of Manchester United.

Qatari investors will make a bid after we reported that they were first considering and then likely to make an approach for United.

Sky News understands that former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani is linked to this bid. He is known as 'HBJ' and has notable investments in London, where he has been a strong investment figure for several years, including notable properties and hotels around Hyde Park.

Former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani is linked to the imminent Qatari bid for Manchester United
Image: Former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani is linked to the imminent Qatari bid for Manchester United

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also expected to bid for United with his INEOS group. There will be some investors from the US, who will be similar to the group that brought Chelsea, and I still think there is a good chance there will be a bid from Saudi Arabia.

Qatar and the bid from Saudi Arabia are expected to be the only ones that would not rely on borrowed money to finance the deal.

There are some random bids out there as well, and Raine Group will try and cobble those groups together to make it into one bid. We saw that in the Chelsea situation as well, where some of the people who made bids decided to join up together to improve their chances.

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One of the world's richest men, Elon Musk, has so far stayed silent on reports that he is considering making a bid. Musk is a United supporter and has joked in the past on Twitter - the social media platform he now owns - about buying the club.

Jim Ratcliffe, Manchester United
Image: Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS group want to buy Manchester United

How does the bidding process work?

Bids have to be in by 10pm on Friday evening, UK time. This is, however, a soft deadline.

If you want to buy Manchester United, you would have already got in touch with the Raine Group investment group based in New York who are marketing the sale.

All you have to do is send an email or a letter, one single paragraph if you want, of how much your bid is, how much of Manchester United you want to buy, and your proof of funds - but that last one is not going to be a problem for the Qatari royal family.

How much would Man Utd cost in full?

The Glazer family want £5bn for the club - but it is currently valued at £2.9bn on the New York Stock Exchange. That is a significant gap and it is worth noting that even the lower valuation would still be a worldwide record for a football club.

To put those numbers into context, the most-expensive sports team ever sold is the Denver Broncos American Football team, who were sold for £3.75bn last year.

April 10, 2019 - Manchester, United Kingdom - Avram Glazer (L) and his brother Joel (R) during the UEFA Champions League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Picture date: 10th April 2019. Picture credit should read: Darren Staples/Sportimage(Credit Image: © Darren Staples/CSM via ZUMA Wire) (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)
Image: The Glazer family want £5bn to sell Manchester United in full

Chelsea went for £2.5bn but Newcastle was picked up for £300m - and PSG cost the relatively small amount of £60m in 2011, less than some players are signed for these days!

An insider has told Sky Sports News that no one will want to go big with their initial offer for the club.

What do we know about the bidders?

If I was one of the other groups looking to buy Manchester United, I would be worried that the Qataris have come in and said they definitely want to buy Manchester United.

If you look at the money they have, the investments they have made in the past over a big variety of businesses, they don't normally lose out if they want something.

If they have decided they want to buy Manchester United, they will go all out to get it.

The Qatari bid would have the blessing of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who is a Manchester United supporter.

The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is a Manchester United fan
Image: The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is a Manchester United fan

A Qatari takeover of Manchester United would lead to significant investment being made in the team, Old Trafford and the city of Manchester.

Old Trafford and United's Carrington training ground need to be redeveloped and the Qataris are ready to spend significant sums in restoring the team and the club's infrastructure to its former glories.

Sir Jim ticks a lot of boxes as far as United fans are concerned. He grew up supporting United and has a lot of investments in lots of different sports.

Will Qatar meet the Glazers' asking price?

I've been told that the Qatari investors will not overpay. They will not dance to the Glazers' tune when it comes to price.

If you look at the investments they have made in the past, PSG for example who are worth £3bn-£4bn, they bought the club for around £60m to £70m. The Saudi Arabians who bought Newcastle bought the club for £300m.

The Qataris have this image, they are exceptionally wealthy people, but they will not throw money at the Glazers - they want a deal that makes sense for them. That's because so much money needs to be invested into United - especially in infrastructure going forwards.

Would Qatar Sports Investments' ownership of PSG be an issue?

Nasser Al-Khelaifi
Image: Qatari Sports Investments currently own Paris Saint-Germain

There is a UEFA rule that two clubs with the same owner cannot play in the same European competition. So if Man United and PSG were both owned by Qatari Sports Investments, then they cannot play against each other in the Champions League.

But QSI will not be buying Manchester United, it will be another set of investors linked to the Qatari royal family who are interested in buying the Premier League club.

There are also ways around that UEFA rule - we have seen RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig play in the Champions League regularly and they are both owned by Red Bull. The way around that is you have to prove that the club is not owned by the same people and management structure.

It also helps that the president of PSG is on the UEFA Executive Committee. He will have taken soundings on what is and is not possible.

Furthermore, Sir Jim Ratcliffe is in a similar situation to PSG in the fact his INEOS group own Nice, so there may be a conflict of interest if the Ligue 1 club and Manchester United were to be in the same European competition, if he were to own both clubs.

After all the focus on human rights issues in Qatar ahead of and during the World Cup, what would the reaction be if investors from that country bought a Premier League club?

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Jonathan Liew and John Cross discuss their views on the Qatari bid for Manchester United and what impact they believe it will have on the clubs history and the fans.

It would be controversial. The country's track record on workers' rights, women's rights and its treatment of the LGBTQ+ community has been criticised over the past few years in the build-up to the World Cup and it would certainly draw media attention again if Qataris were to buy Man Utd.

There would be some supporters who would be delighted by the prospect of owners with near-limitless wealth arriving at Old Trafford but others who would not feel comfortable with them owning their club.

Amnesty International has said the potential Qatari bid should be a "wake-up call" for the Premier League to strengthen its ownership rules but relations between the Qatari and UK governments is good and there wouldn't be an expectation the Premier League would block that type of investment.

Another human rights group, Fair Square, also came out on Thursday to say Qatar should not be owning a Premier League football club.

Have fan groups spoken out against Qatari investment?

Manchester United LGBTQ+ supporters' group the Rainbow Devils have raised "deep concern" regarding some of the parties reportedly interested in buying the club.

Hours before Friday's deadline, the Rainbow Devils decided to speak out.

"Rainbow Devils believe any bidder seeking to buy Manchester United must commit to making football a sport for everyone, including LGBTQ+ supporters, players and staff," the group said in a Twitter post.

"We therefore have deep concern over some of the bids that are being made. We are watching the current process closely with this in mind."

The issue of LGBTQ+ rights in Qatar dominated the build-up to the World Cup in the country at the end of last year.

In the event, many supporters reported that authorities confiscated rainbow-coloured items, despite FIFA insisting it had received government assurances this would not happen.

One such individual was Laura McAllister, who was in Qatar as an ambassador for the Wales national team and who is set to become a member of UEFA's ruling executive committee in April.

If it was completed before the end of the season, could there be big funds available for Erik ten Hag in the summer transfer window?

Erik ten Hag, Manchester United
Image: Erik ten Hag could be given a major transfer kitty at Old Trafford

That's a possibility - depending of course on who became owner and how much they'd spent to take control. We have seen the amount of spending Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali have overseen at Chelsea and there is the potential a new owner will try to make their mark at Man Utd.

But it is worth pointing out a study into the biggest net transfer spends over the past five seasons, which shows Manchester United have the second-highest spend in the world over that period.

So it's not like there hasn't been significant money spent on new signings at United in the past.

Neville: What my manifesto for the new owner would be

Sky Sports' Gary Neville:

"The main thing is that the Glazers leave as soon as possible. The second thing is that the club needs to be now in good hands and with someone who has feelings for the club.

"Sir Jim Ratcliffe was born in Manchester and knows the area. If he wins it, there will be a lot of happy Manchester United fans as I think he'll want to do the right thing by the club.

"Beyond the Glazers leaving, I don't think United can afford to be with another investment fund where they're expecting a return on the money. That's what worries me about private equity coming into football.

"People are still looking for a return on their money and a return on their investment. Manchester United need a debt-free football club with someone who is willing to put money into it.

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Gary Neville says the priority for any new owners of Manchester United has to be results on the pitch and says the club have to be at their best to beat Arsenal this Sunday.

"The problem is the price they're going to have to pay for it is going to be big so you're going to have to have deep pockets. I don't know if Sir Jim is going to be able to bring people in with him, but I'm hopeful that can happen.

There could be any number of buyers - it won't just be Sir Jim bidding. I'd like to see criteria set for what a new Manchester United owner looks like.

"They have to be debt-free and make sure they invest in the facilities, the infrastructure, the training ground, the stadium.

"Making sure they put money into the football project, the fan experience and fan involvement: they're really important things as part of a manifesto that the Glazers haven't been transparent about.

"I just hope the highest bidder sees this as more than something they can flip in three years for a billion more.

"The priority for the new owners has to be winning. A winning Manchester United is difficult to stop - we've seen that in the past.

"With significant investment, the club then can become dangerous as a force again. The priority has to always be football performance and then you talk about fan experience. The stadium and the facilities have to be world-class again."

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