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Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera Staff

Sheikh Jassim withdraws bid to buy Manchester United from Glazers

Manchester United fans display a 'Glazers Out' banner inside Old Trafford football stadium in Manchester, England, the United Kingdom [File: Craig Brough/Reuters]

Qatari businessman Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani has withdrawn his bid to buy Manchester United Football Club from its current owners, the Glazer family, sources close to the bid have confirmed to Al Jazeera.

In the past few days, Jassim, the chairman of a Qatari bank and son of a former Qatari prime minister, held discussions with the American owners, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the valuation of the UK-based club.

Sheikh Jassim had been willing to pay “almost double” the current valuation of the club – which some reports put at $3.3bn – for a 100 percent stake and had promised an initial additional investment of over $1.7bn towards transfers, improving the club’s facilities and community projects.

However, he has informed the Glazer family that he will not meet what sources close to his bid describe as their “outlandish valuation”.

The Glazers began “exploring strategic alternatives” to their ownership last November after almost 18 tumultuous years of ownership.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the founder and chairman of the INEOS chemicals conglomerate, submitted a bid seeking 69 percent ownership of the club, the same percentage owned by the Glazers. Ratcliffe’s bid may value the club at a higher price than Jassim’s, but as a minority bidder, he would be purchasing a far smaller stake in it.

He has since revised his bid and has now proposed to buy 25 percent of the club, which would leave one or more of the Glazers at Manchester United. That is unlikely to sit well with many fans who have long protested against the Florida-based family’s ownership of the club.

The Glazer family’s involvement with Manchester United began in 2003 when the late real estate mogul Malcolm Glazer purchased a 2.9 percent stake in it. Two years later, the family took ownership of the club, paying 790 million British pounds ($958m) in a leveraged buyout, in which money borrowed to fund the purchase was secured against the club’s own assets.

The deal immediately sparked uproar among fans, who slammed the new owners for saddling the then hugely profitable club with vast amounts of debt.

When the plans for a potential sale were announced last year, Ahmed Bilal, the editor of the football blog Man Utd News, told Al Jazeera: “It is an understatement to say that fans will be happy [if the club is sold] – the contempt for the Glazers runs deep.”

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