Manchester United could be the target of a takeover by a consortium funded by Saudi Arabian investors.
The group had been linked with a £345 million takeover of Newcastle United, with the club’s owner Mike Ashley having been attempting to sell his club for most of the last five years. A move appeared imminent around Christmas and the new year, but talks appear to have cooled and may even have been called off entirely.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is now keen on returning to Manchester United, with the Saudis linked to the club for the past few seasons.
Any offer would have to be at around £3 billion, in order to convince the Glazer family to sell. There have been reports of a split in the Glazer family over which members wish to sell. A huge offer might be enough to convince a majority of the family to sell up - with Joel and Avram Glazer the most keenly involved of the family in the day-to-day running of the club.
Executive vice-chairman Edward ‘Ed’ Woodward is also believed to own around £10 million of United shares, which would suggest that he would be willing to sell out if a premium were offered on the current share price.
United may not be an entirely attractive investment for the usual private equity groups because it makes relatively little money, but as a trophy asset there are few like it. Equally prominent clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid cannot be bought, and Juventus are controlled by the Agnelli family despite being listed on the Italian stock market.
Any investor would need deep pockets to overhaul the poorly equipped squad, and might be expected to fund a redevelopment of Old Trafford, which has come in for criticism from journalists over the last season.