Saudi Minister Denies Reports Crown Prince Is Eyeing Manchester United Takeover

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2019

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on December 2, 2018, shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meeting with the Mauritanian president during a ceremony signing meomrandums of understanding and bilateral agreements at the capital Nouakchott. (Photo by Bandar AL-JALOUD / Saudi Royal Palace / AFP) / XGTY / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / SAUDI ROYAL PALACE / BANDAR AL-JALOUD' - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS        (Photo credit should read BANDAR AL-JALOUD/AFP/Getty Images)
BANDAR AL-JALOUD/Getty Images

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has no intention of purchasing Manchester United, says the country's media minister

Rob Harris of the Associated Press cited a report from The Sun's John Hutchinson, who wrote Prince Mohammed was intensifying his efforts to buy the Premier League giants and launched a $3.8 billion takeover bid. But media minister Turki Al-Shabanah tweeted to clarify recent talks between the two parties were strictly regarding a sponsorship deal:

The Glazer family purchased United in 2005 for £790 million, per Hutchinson, and they stand to make a big profit on their asset should they sell. However, the club's qualification for next season's UEFA Champions League is thought to have a major influence on the purchase price.

Harris highlighted the human rights concerns surrounding the Crown Prince, which escalated after Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2018.

Eleven people were indicted in the killing of the Saudi Arabia-born writer—including several officials with close ties to the Crown Prince—following initial denials that Khashoggi had been murdered.

Increased links with the Saudi empire led to a negative reaction from some United fans, via Middle East Eye:

There have been increased signs that links between United and Saudi powers are tightening, such as their allegiance over the initiative to reduce the state's reliance on oil, named Saudi Vision 2030.

United lost touch with the Premier League's upper echelon towards the end of Jose Mourinho's tenure, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken the club from sixth to fourth in a little less than two months in charge.

His work at Old Trafford will have renewed confidence the Red Devils will be back in the Champions League next season. United are in the last 16 of this term's competition but lost 2-0 at home to Paris Saint-Germain in their first-leg matchup and look likely to fall in Paris next month.

Football writer Mootaz Chehade reported rumours of Bin Salman's interest in purchasing United back in October but noted the Glazers weren't keen on selling:

Per Harris, United project revenue of between £615 million and £630 million for 2018-19 and remain one of the most valuable football clubs in the world.

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