Saudi Arabia’s sports minister has described the possibility of owning Manchester United as a ‘good opportunity’.
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The Gulf state’s private investment firm (PIF) shook up the world of football just over 12 months ago when they purchased Newcastle United from Mike Ashley and instantly turned the sleeping Premier League giants into the world’s richest football club.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal insists the PIF will continue to focus its attention on Eddie Howe’s upwardly mobile club and ruled out the prospect of it purchasing the Red Devils, but admitted the prospect of a private Saudi investor taking over from the Glazer family was a possibility.
Prince Abdulaziz told The Times: ‘The PIF just invested in Newcastle and I think we are focusing as a PIF on that. If there is a private investor that wants to come in, why not?
‘I think it is a good opportunity and if the numbers add up and we can all benefit from that from a business perspective, why not. If there really is an opportunity that benefits us I would encourage the private sector to do so.
‘Newcastle as a club is benefiting from this purchase and I think Manchester United or any other club would look at these opportunities.’
The Glazers put United up for sale earlier this week after 17 tumultuous years at the helm and are valuing the club at around £5.8 billion.
British businessman and life-long United fan, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, is expected to make a bid having already conducted a feasibility study, while reports on Thursday claimed Apple are considering entering the running, as well as Zara founder Amancio Ortega who is among the 20 richest men on the planet.
Asked why he felt the time was right to stand aside and seek fresh investment, Avram Glazer told Sky News yesterday: ‘As we announced yesterday, the board went through a process and it has decided it has going to look at different strategic alternatives and that’s what we’re doing.
‘We’ve gone through a process, we’ve gone through all different strategic alternatives and we’ll see where that leads us.’
Whoever ultimately inherits United from the Glazers will no longer be able to benefit from the significant commercial interest generated by Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence, after his contract was terminated earlier this week following his controversial interview with Piers Morgan.
The 37-year-old refused to address his future following Portugal’s World Cup win over Ghana last night but has been linked with a move to Saudi club Al-Nassr in January.
‘Who wouldn’t want Ronaldo to come and play in their league?; Prince Abdulaziz said.
‘He is a role model for a lot of the youth. If that does happen I think we can work together to develop football in the kingdom with such an iconic star.’
On the subject of mounting a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup with Egypt meanwhile, he added: ‘We don’t have a bid as we speak, or that we have announced. In the future if possibilities do open and there is a good opportunity to host such an event the benefits are big for Saudi and the region.
‘We have seen that by Qatar hosting the World Cup in our region, so definitely the future is bright for Saudi and hopefully we can showcase that we can host such an event in the future.
‘At the moment we are focusing on bids for the 2027 Asia Cup and the 2026 Asia Women’s Cup.’
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