The Mirror is reporting that Manchester United remains Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s first choice as he seeks to buy a Premier League club.
The Saudi prince has recently been linked with the purchase of Newcastle United, but negotiations have stalled with a stubborn Mike Ashley demanding £250,000 just to allow a purchaser access to the club’s accounts to do due diligence.
Bin Salman was believed to have offered Manchester United’s current owners the Glazer family around £3.5 billion for the club in 2018 but despite this representing a huge profit on the £790 million they paid, the Americans refused to sell and so he turned his interest elsewhere.
However, with talks with Newcastle reaching an impasse the press are now speculating as to whether he will return to Old Trafford with an improved offer.
Fans are divided on whether or not such a takeover would be welcome at United. Many would not want the club to be run by a member of a dynasty with a poor human rights record, although bin Salman himself has been reported to be a more progressive member of the family and was behind lifting the ban on women drivers in Saudi around 18 months ago.
Others, though, support the move, believing that the prince will be able to clear the debts placed on United by the Glazers when they leveraged the club in order to take control in 2005. Many fans also think there would be a bigger transfer kitty and less meddling in football affairs by the owners than is the case under the Glazers.
Tensions between the current owners and Manchester United fans have been growing rapidly in recent weeks, with regular chants now demanding the family’s departure and mass walkouts and boycotts planned. Whether this will soften their resolve and allow bin Salman to acquire the club he so covets remains to be seen.