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Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim awaits Manchester United decision as West Ham rumors swirl

A report by El Pais linked the Qatari royal to the east London-based team.
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Angelo Ogbonna of West Ham United battles for possession with Rodrigo Moreno of Leeds United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Leeds United at London Stadium on May 21, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani is still awaiting a decision from the Glazer family about whether his offer to buy British soccer club Manchester United will succeed, as a report emerged saying that the Qatari royal may think about trying to buy English Premier League rival West Ham if he fails in his takeover attempt.

Jassim, a 44-year-old chairman of Qatar Investment Bank (QIB) and son of a former emir of Qatar, has been racing to buy Manchester United through his Nine Two Foundation since the beginning of the year and is waiting with bidding rival Jim Ratcliffe, the CEO of petrochemicals firm INEOS, to hear back from United's current owners.

The Glazers have owned the club since 2005 but said last November that they were considering “strategic alternatives” for the Red Devils that could include a takeover.

Last week, Jassim put in an eleventh-hour bid for the soccer club that was just shy of the Glazers’ £6 billion ($7.5 billion) valuation of the sporting franchise. The original deadline for the third and final round bids was April 28.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported Sunday that Jassim could make a move to take over the east London-based West Ham if he is unsuccessful with his offer for Manchester United, which includes a debt-free full buyout of the club along with further investment in its Old Trafford Stadium and training ground.

The report suggested that QIB is now “beginning to assess other entry options in the Premier League.”

It added that the Hammers are the second choice after Manchester United, because the team has one of the biggest stadium capacities in London and the home games often sell out. The team’s home, London Stadium, began operations in 2012. It seats up to 66,000 spectators.  

However, CBS Sports journalist Ben Jacobs later tweeted, "Understand Sheikh Jassim is not considering West Ham if unsuccessful in buying Manchester United. Nine Two Foundation haven't made any approach or even discussed West Ham internally."

He said if the Qatari royal fails to buy Manchester United, PSG owner Qatar Sports Investments — a subsidiary of the country's sovereign wealth fund — will lead any approach to another club, with Spanish side Malaga being "their next prospect."

Al-Monitor has contacted QIB and West Ham for comment.

Ratcliffe, who is also vying to buy Manchester United, is understood to have offered the Glazers a bid that values the club higher than Jassim but is only purchasing a majority stake, leaving the current owners a 20% share of the soccer team. The Sun reported on May 10 that Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man, is the “preferred bidder,” but that was before Jassim submitted a revised offer for the club.

The Glazers have fallen out of favor with many United fans for what they see as plunging the club into debt and failing to have a long-term strategic vision for the club.

It is unclear whether the soccer team will end up joining a growing list of Middle Eastern-owned sports franchises.

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