Father of Man United Qatari bidder 'doesn't like the investment'

Father of Qatari Manchester United bidder Sheikh Jassim admits he ‘doesn’t like the investment’ and ‘isn’t even ‘a football fan’ – but says his son is still ‘pushing hard’ to get a £4.5bn deal done

  • Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani has confirmed he made a bid for Man United
  • His father has admitted that he ‘doesn’t like the investment’ offer by his son 
  • Sheikh Jassim is waiting to hear back about the next steps about the takeover 

The father of the Qatari sheikh who is bidding for Manchester United has admitted that he ‘doesn’t like the investment’ offer by his son.

Ahead of last month’s ‘soft’ deadline, Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, announced his intention to acquire ‘100 per cent of the club’ from the Glazers. 

Sheikh Jassim is pushing hard to get a £4.5bn deal completed, with British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe also in the race to complete a takeover of the Premier League giants.

As reported by the Athletic, his father Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar, said he is not interested in football and sees the bid as an investment opportunity rather than an ‘advertisement’ for the country.

‘I am not a football fan,’ Sheikh Hamad said about his son’s interest in Manchester United in an interview for the David Rubenstein show.

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani (left) announced his intention to acquire Manchester United last month but his father (right) ‘doesn’t like the investment’ and is not a football fan

The Qatari investor and British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe are waiting to hear back about the next steps following their respective bids to buy the club from current owners the Glazers

‘I don’t like this investment. Maybe it will work well. But you know, some of my sons like this, they always discuss it with me. They’re pushing hard, this isn’t my specialty. 

‘Let me put it like this: I am an investor. If it will one day be a good investment, I will think about it. I will not look at it as something you do just as an advertisement.’

He went on to add that he was against Qatar staging the World Cup in 2022, but ultimately felt that it proved to be beneficial for the gulf state.

Sheikh Hamad said: ‘I thought that’s a lot of money and effort that will be spent. We could spend it on something else that’s good for the people and the country.

‘But if you ask me now, I will tell you there was a lot of positive outcomes. And the positive outcome was not only putting Qatar on the map. 

‘Look at the people who visited. I knew many from the business community, from all over the world. They came, some of them for the first time. They brought their families.’

Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe’s bids were lodged at a maximum of £4.5bn though the Glazers are seeking around £6bn – a valuation that is seen by some to be an unrealistic amount

Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe’s INEOS were confirmed to have made offers for the Red Devils, and are now waiting on responses from Raine Group – the merchant bank dealing with the sale. 

The Qatari bid was for full control of the club, while Ratcliffe is hoping to take a majority stake at Old Trafford – though both of their initial bids were lodged at maximum of £4.5bn. 

Raine Group have been sifting through the bids ahead of the next process and those in the running are expected to be given access to United’s full financials, after being given a glimpse following their initial expressions of interest.

It is unlikely that first offers  will be accepted, with a period of negotiation set to follow. There is a belief that the Glazers are seeking around £6bn, a valuation some see as unrealistic.

Sheikh Hamad was also initially against plans for Qatar to hold the World Cup but ultimately believed that there was a ‘positive outcome’ through the country holding the tournament

Sheikh Jassim, chairman of one of Qatar’s biggest banks, is understood to have watched United’s Carabao Cup final victory with family at his home in Doha. He is known as a United fan and friends say he wears the club’s shirt at weekly five-a-side matches. 

A statement following the Qatari offer read: ‘The bid plans to return the club to its former glories both on and off the pitch, and – above all – will seek to place the fans at the heart of Manchester United Football Club once more.

‘The bid will be completely debt free via Sheikh Jassim’s Nine Two Foundation, which will look to invest in the football teams, the training centre, the stadium and wider infrastructure, the fan experience and the communities the club supports.

‘The vision of the bid is for Manchester United Football Club to be renowned for footballing excellence, and regarded as the greatest football club in the world.’

Little is known about Sheikh Jassim, the Qatari bank manager who lodged the bid for United, but is seen as the favourite to succeed in buying United from the Glazers. 

Plenty is known though about Jassim’s father, a colourful and sometimes controversial figure who owns swathes of property in some of London’s richest districts and gave £2.6m in cash to King Charles across several face-to-face meetings, including one in 2015 at Clarence House. 

There was nothing illegal in the handovers and the money ended up going to charity, lodged with Princes of Wales’s Charitable Fund. Sheikh Hamad was the prime minister of Qatar from 2007 to 2013 and has long-standing ties to Britain, trained as a cadet at Sandhurst (as did Jassim).

So little is known about Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the Qatari bank manager who lodged a £4billion bid to buy Manchester United on Friday night. Pictured: Old Trafford

Sheikh Jassim is one of 15 kids he has had with his two wives. He was born in 1982 and is a long-time United fan who has been ‘passionate’ about the club since he was ten years old.

Those speaking on his behalf to the Mail on Sunday last month, conceded they had never actually met him, don’t know whether he is married or has children, and can’t say why he started supporting United in 1992, at a point when they hadn’t won a league title in 25 years.

Those speaking for him could not say how many times he had been to Old Trafford but insist he is a ‘genuine’ United fan who has been in person to ‘many’ United matches over the years.

‘He was encouraged to make a bid for Chelsea when they came up for sale last year,’ said a source. ‘But he had no interest in buying because it’s United he supports.’

Sheikh Jassim’s bid, if successful, will purchase United via the Nine Two Foundation, an entity that doesn’t yet exist in any meaningful form, and so-named as a nod to the year he started supporting the club. His spokespeople insist he will buy the club with cash, clear all debt, and invest heavily in all areas of the club.

That foundation has no connection to the Class of 92, the company headed by Gary Neville, and which includes David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Phil Neville as investors. 

The size of Jassim’s personal fortune is unknown, as is the source of it but he would have access to the apparatus of the Qatari state and its untold riches. 

Sheikh Jassim has talked about the need to redevelop Old Trafford, by which he doesn’t just mean the stadium. It seems likely that both Manchester City Council and the UK government will push for a regeneration project, similar to the one driven by Abu Dhabi around Manchester City’s ground and the Eastlands. 

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