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Manchester United expected to close $9.15bn sale to Qatari royal

Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and Jim Ratcliffe, CEO of UK-based petrochemicals company INEOS, have been competing to buy the soccer team.
Harry Maguire

The owners of Manchester United are reportedly set to announce a 7.2-7.3 billion pound ($9.15 billion) sale of the club to Qatari royal Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, after a nine-month protracted sale process, the BBC reported Sunday.

The chairman of Cardiff City, a Welsh soccer club, Mehmet Dalman spoke to the BBC on Sunday about the rising costs of soccer teams, especially in the English Premier League. 

"I've been meeting a lot with US private equity funds and the valuation of football clubs is going through the roof," Dalman said. "Americans are determined to come into this market quite heavily.”

"I spoke to the owners of Leeds when we were there, and Championship clubs are valued at three times their revenue, give or take. Manchester United are going to announce their sale at 7.2 billion-7.3 billion pounds, which is roughly 10 times their revenue,” he added.

Current owners of the Red Devils, the Glazer family, announced last November that they were looking at “strategic alternatives” for the English Premier League soccer club, which could include an outright sale. 

Both Sheikh Jassim, son of a former prime minister of Qatar and chairman at Qatar Islamic Bank, and Jim Ratcliffe, CEO of UK-based petrochemicals company INEOS and Britain’s richest man, have been competing to buy Manchester United.

The Qatari is looking to buy the club out fully with no debt, while Ratcliffe is understood to be looking to acquire a minority stake in the club. Sheikh Jassim’s offer is also reported to include investment in the local community and Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium.

The official deadline for third-round bids for the club was back in April, but Sheikh Jassim is understood to have made an offer of 6 billion pounds ($7.6 billion) since then. There have been many twists and turns in the sale process, with some reports emerging last month that the Glazers may not wish to sell United amid disagreement between the six brothers who own the club. The Glazers bought the club for 790 million pounds ($1.34 billion) in 2005.

But with no formal announcement yet, a Manchester United fan group, called Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST), on Sunday accused the Glazer family of holding the club "hostage" over the prolonged takeover saga.

Speaking about his own club Cardiff, which is much smaller than Manchester United, Dalman said, "Two or three years ago, we might have been talking about selling Cardiff for about 20 million or 30 million pounds, but now you're going to have to look at 90 million or 100 million pounds. Valuations [of Championship clubs] have all stretched. In terms of the money burned, you have a better chance of getting it back in this environment than you ever have before."

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