The man widely reported to be leading the race to buy Manchester United is being investigated by the British government.
Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani has made two bids to buy the Red Devils outright as the sale process enters its third stage. The latest bid is believed to be in excess of $5 billion, a price that would make United the most expensive sporting enterprise in the world.
But according to Bloomberg, there is concern within the UK government about the Sheikh’s financial record.
“The reservations, voiced internally over the past few weeks by senior government officials working on football governance, have focused on previous regulatory failings at the UK unit of the Qatar Islamic Bank, where Sheikh Jassim has been chairman since 2006, according to the people who declined to comment discussing internal matters,” Bloomberg reports.
“While there’s no suggestion that the UK is set to intervene to block Sheikh Jassim’s bid, the concerns by the UK government suggest ministers may put pressure on the Premier League to pose its own questions when it conducts its due diligence on Man United’s suitors.”
This means that the government is unlikely to block the takeover but is expected to encourage the Premier League to block it.
With Qatari outfit QSI owning Paris Saint Germain, there are already question marks as to whether Sheikh Jassim is merely a figurehead to get around rules against anyone owning more than one club in the same European competition.
QSI are attached to QIA, which in turn are associated with AIB.
This latest spanner in the works adds immense pressure to the Qatari bid as the Sheikh himself is identified as non-compliant by the government officials.
It is unclear as to whether a sale would be agreed before the government, the Premier League and/or UEFA make their decision as to whether the new ownership is acceptable to them or not.
In other words, will they be asked to green light each potential bidder before the Glazers make the deal? Or could we see a scenario where United fans have celebrated the announcement of new ownership, only to then find that the Premier League or UEFA will not allow the club to participate in their competition under the new ownership?
It may be that in the next round of bidding, potential owners have to prove they have the blessing of the authorities before a final decision is made by the outgoing businessmen.
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