Qatari investors led by Sheikh Jassim Hamad Al Thani are intent on buying a Premier League club and should their takeover attempt of Manchester United fail, they could turn their attention to another team.
Sheikh Jassim via his Nine Two Foundation Investment vehicle has been locked in heated competition with INEOS billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe to take over the reins at Old Trafford.
Almost eight months now after the process was kickstarted, the Glazers are no closer to naming a preferred buyer, a situation which has left United’s future in limbo.
BBC’s Simon Stone spoke to Stretford Paddock and expressed confidence that a majority sale to either Sheikh Jassim or Sir Jim is still the most likely outcome despite the protracted nature of the entire exercise.
He however refused to definitively rule out the Glazers staying onboard as custodians of the club while taking up the option to pursue minority investment. No doubt such a move would enrage large sections of the fanbase.
Interestingly, Stone revealed that he was told right after the World Cup that Qatar are keen to acquire a club in England’s top flight.
As per Stone, the Gulf state wants a club in the spirit of rivalry with Manchester City-owned Abu Dhabi and Newcastle who are backed by sovereign wealth from Saudi Arabia.
He remarked, “If that is rejected [Sheikh Jassim’s bid for United], then Qatar’s interest in the Premier League, I assume will move somewhere else.”
“That could be Tottenham – which has been spoken about before as they have the location, stadium and training ground. It could be West Ham… it could be anybody.”
“If there’s a Qatari ownership of a Premier club and it’s not Manchester United, that is going to be an expensive battle to fight to maintain a place in the top four, let alone win things, which is the aim [for the Red Devils].”
The BBC journalist also indicated that even if a new owner comes before the conclusion of the transfer window, this is unlikely to make a huge difference in just how much Erik ten Hag can spend in the market on new recruits.
Stone maintains that United’s activities are being severely hampered by Financial Fair Play regulations.