Emir of Qatar wants to add Manchester United to his portfolio
In the last week rumors of a Qatar bid for Manchester United have been building a head of steam. I recently posted an article on this blog detailing the initial round of media reported, interested investors in United. At the time I avoided discussing interest from Qatar specifically because other Arab nations looked to be more serious investors. Particularly the UAE based sovereign fund in Dubai.
However, since that post, the British media have began heavily reporting on interest on from the Emir of Qatar. Initially, this was a notion worth scoffing at. Forget about the human rights issues in Qatar, similar to those outlined in my previous article in the UAE. Forget about the fact that the Arab world is trying to sports wash their global reputation.
The rules established by almost every organizing body in European football explicitly prevents the Emir from bidding on United because he owns PSG.
Rules are meant to be broken?
The FA, FIFA and UEFA rules all state that a single entity may not own multiple teams that can potentially meet in the same competition. The point being, the Emir of Qatar already owns PSG, the Parisian outfit. Because United and PSG can potentially meet in European competition, he technically cannot own both teams.
This rule has existed since the founding of UEFA. They first implemented it in early efforts to create a kind of financial fair play. And it has been heavily enforced in the past. Thus, it would appear there was little foundation to claims that this rule will change any time soon.
Until Qatar entered the fray…
If you haven’t already read the widespread reports of corruption, payoffs and secret contracts between FIFA and the Qatari government then strap in. Otherwise you will want to skip the next bit for your own sanity.
Allow me to enlighten you to just the tip of the iceberg as it pertains to a Qatari bid for Manchester United.
Qatar vs FIFA vs USDOJ vs Media Elite
At the end of 2022 the United States Department of Justice released a statement unequivocally outlining what all football fans have known for a while. US prosecutors have established evidence that representatives of the Russian and Qatari government had bribed FIFA officials to secure their respective bids for the 2018 and 2022 world cups.
The indictment goes further. Prosecutors show that money laundering and wire fraud was rampant throughout the process. Several unnamed media executives and a single sports marketing firm have been implicated so far. These executives were allegedly paying off both FIFA and the Russian and Qatari governments. Their goal being exclusive media rights for the two tournaments.
Through this process both nations, FIFA and the sporting executive elite manufactured a multifaceted, multitiered global scheme to commit fraud.
The money to be made from the world cup for a host nation is in the tens of billions. Not to mention the global exposure a host nation receives during the tournament is insurmountable. The potential exposure and profits to be made are enough to drive a global footballing cabal. One that can easily drive global markets, stimulate a club super league (for a second time) and fraudulently infiltrate every tier of professional football.
What’s more, while we are on this little tangent, allow me to take you further down the proverbial rabbit hole.
Money + Messi + Ronaldo + Manchester United = Corruption
The Qatari government, through bribery and endemic corruption essentially bought the 2022 world cup. What’s is an even greater detriment to professional football is in a disheartening plot twist they’ve got Messi and Ronaldo. What do I mean when I say this?
Well…(deep Ace Ventura style pre monologue breath) The Emir of Qatar buys PSG. Within a few years, Lionel Messi becomes the franchise player for PSG. He ritualistically campaigns hard for Qatar before and during the world cup. After which he wins the world cup. Messi then signs a massive image rights contract with the Qatari government. Then Messi becomes the countries official sports ambassador, making tens of million’s in the process and winning the world cup.
Following the world cup, the Qatari and Saudi governments announced a joint Arab bid to attempt to steal the 2026 world cup from North America. This announcement was made despite there being a rule in FIFA’s bi-laws stating that the world cup cannot be held back to back on the same continent.
But as we have seen, both countries have more money than the average person can fathom. While perhaps more disturbingly, is how corrupt FIFA is to its core. That combo means that there is a very real possibility of the next world cup being reassigned. All the Saudis and Qataris need to do is grease the wheels a little.
Saudi vs the Qatari bid for Manchester United
The Saudi’s have already seized the opportunity by taking it two steps further. First, they announced after the world cup that Messi would be the official tourism ambassador for the country. Yet another deal worth tens of millions for the ‘infallible’ Argentine. Apparently even he is not immune to the huge dollar signs being flashed in this part of the world.
The second thing the Saudi’s did was go all in on a two year deal worth $500 million for Cristiano Ronaldo. By contracting both players, they can effectively now use both GOATs to bid for an Arab 2026 world cup takeover. Don’t be fooled, the power that both players have has the ability to sway minds, especially if those minds are also being paid off.
It should also be mentioned that it has been more than two decades since an international tournament has taken place without at least a cameo roll from either GOAT.
Why does all of this rubbish about Messi and Ronaldo matter when it doesn’t directly effect Manchester United?
The disgusting precedent
Simple…Precedent. Allow me to explain.
The Qatari’s and Saudi’s are sports washing in full force. They are directly using their affiliations with the games GOAT’s to push for their bid to hijack the next world cup. If they are successful they will have demonstrated the following two points.
First, they will have publicly demonstrated the depth of corruption in professional football. Second, they will have set a precedent. One that could easily allow them to successfully lobby or pay off UEFA to change the current rules. The same rules that are actively preventing the Emir of Qatar from buying Manchester United.
Given the Emir also owns PSG, his process for buying United will face greater than average scrutiny. He is trying to make the argument that PSG and United could easily be run as two completely separate entities. He further claims that despite being the owner, his monarchial duties mean he has little effect on the daily operations of either club.
Lamentably so, there is also precedent for this. In Europe, the Red Bull group own both RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzberg, whom face each other in UEFA cup competitions regularly. But, Red Bull has successfully placed completely different executive and operating staff at each club. They were able to prove to UEFA they could build two completely independent sporting entities under one ownership.
Hence precedent. It appears Red Bull has given wings to this idea of a single entity owning multiple teams in top European leagues. This precedent simply had yet to be applied to top European clubs.
Qatar Sports Washing
It is clear that the Emir isn’t interested in United for its heritage, business potential or its fans. He is committing one hundred percent to his cultural sport washing campaign. This investment into professional football is simply the Emir’s latest venture. He has also previously invested in formula 1 racing, grand prix racing, professional cycling, cricket, horse racing and several other “ESPN the Ocho” type sports.
In the end, the Emir’s intentions, all of the corruption, the rules violations, they may all be a moot point. To make matters worse, yes I do mean worse, believe me when I tell you we do not want to be owned by a Arab nation state sovereign fund, the Emir may have found a loophole.
Enter Nasser al-Khelaifi, the Emir’s main man in situations like this. Strategically so, he happens to be the chairman of PSG. He is also President of the European Club Association, a prominent member of the FIFA organizing committee for the club world cup, and chairman of the beIN media group, who broadcast football and other sports across the globe.
However, most importantly he is the chairman of the Qatar Sports Investment fund.
His position and titles mean he is an extremely influential figure in FIFA and UEFA. He also just so happens to be Qatari, he is in charge of Qatari sporting investments and is besties with the Emir. Essentially the royal family has a James Bond level conspiracy abettor imbedded in the substratum of professional football.
Embrace Corruption? or fight for mediocrity?
Furthermore, in Qatar there is a ruling family, with the Emir at the head. In the face of UEFA opposition, the Emir’s latest reported tactic is to create a consortium of investors comprised of other royal family members and wealthy investors that he trusts. The consortium would be the face of the bid. While Al-Khelaifi would work his sneaky magic behind the scenes to instigate a rule change.
This consortium will effectively become the core of Manchester United ownership. The Emir would lead the group from behind the scenes. And al-Khelaifi would be the influential shadow figure milking and stretching the rules set forth by UEFA and FIFA.
Consider the following. The sheer amount of corruption in the game is disgustingly widespread. The amount of money the Qatari’s have and their desperation to continue their sports washing campaign make them highly motivated. Finally they are reported to be willing to offer the Glazers the most amount of money, which all United fans know is all our current loathsome owners care about.
For Untied fans it then becomes a fight between embracing corruption and social injustice to further our teams success. OR embracing indiscriminate owners, with a passion for United, for the sake of preserving our heritage. All the while relying on the merits of our manager, not a holistic approach, to drive us to success. In the process potentially embracing further mediocrity.
Qatari bid for Manchester United the real deal
I hate to say it, but a week ago I would have written this deal off. If simply because UEFA seem unwilling, under the public eye, to entertain the Emir’s plan. But on the eve of the deadline set by the Reine Group for bids for the club, it would seem the most likely deal.
The initial consensus was that Sir Jim Ratcliffe was the potential owner with the most personal desire to own the club. He has also been tipped to be the favorite candidate of the fans. However, this consensus also outlined how the Dubai sovereign fund was, at the time, likely to be the highest bidder.
The second the Raine Group, announced a deadline for all bids, the Qatari’s immediately began to surface. How quickly things change.
With this process still in its early days, and new reports of fantastical and far fetched potential bidders surfacing every day, it’s hard to say for certain what will happen.
The real value of Manchester United
To United fans and the un-bias base of fans in general, United are the most historic of historic clubs. The club’s monetary value extends far beyond stock prices, market value, sports washing or fan support. It’s true value lies in it’s heritage and the undying support of its fan base. It is clear that the Glazers are trying to play on this sentiment.
They are content using this clubs great history to garner a higher sale price. As usual, even when they give the fans what we want by leaving United, they still manage to exploit every ounce of personal gain from the situation.
Even to the extent of getting in bed with a conservative, religiously driven, ultra wealthy, socially stigmatizing, abettor of corruption, social injustice and human rights violations.
Still early days
At the moment, it would seem that the Qatari’s have become front runners if only due to the Glazer’s greed. That is, provided they can successfully negotiate a rule change with UEFA or work a loophole that allows a Qatari consortium.
It is still too early to say that Sir Jim, the Dubai fund, or any other serious bidder, are out of the running. At the moment, no reported bidder has met the Glazer’s asking price. Not to mention it is too early to count out any other bidders from coming out of the wood works, simply because anonymity is key in these kinds of negotiations.
Not surprisingly, most bidders in a process like this prefer to remain antonymous until an agreement is in place.
Bidder anonymity when purchasing a sports enterprise is extremely important. If only to preserve leverage in the negotiation process.
In fact, the only reason to not remain antonymous when purchasing any business is to get public support on your side, to make a bid more appealing. Hence why stories of Sir Jim, the UAE bid and the Qatari bid are what the media are focusing on.
Public support for Qatari bid for Manchester United
This is to say that Sir Jim and both the Qatari and UAE bids need public support.
Sir Jim needs public support because he either cant or wont bid as high as the Glazer’s want. His tactic is to garner fan support to help push the Glazers to sell for less by using this support as leverage.
The Qatari’s and the UAE need fan support because they have terrible human rights records that are only getting worse. Not to mention the religious, political and social views of the middle eastern and Arab nations are so contrasting to western cultures it becomes a hard sell to buy a team where the fans are likely to despise and hate you as much as we hate the Glazers.
Both Arab nation bidders have stated the massive investments they would make into United. This leads a lot of fans to only see the dollar signs.
Would it be great to have an all star team that steamrolled Europe and dominates the domestic league? Similar to that of the dominant years of Real Madrid between 2010 and 2020. Would it be great to have a brand new training facility and a stadium rivaling the greatest in the world? Absolutely!
Arab bid not all it’s cut out to be
BUT! buying trophies has never been apart of Manchester United’s ethos. How long have we as United fans mocked and scoffed at teams like City, Chelsea, Real Madrid and PSG for doing exactly that. Do we all want to suddenly become hypocrites? I for one do not.
It is not for us as fans to personally or socially judge Arab culture and politics. But, it is for us fans to be able to make a judgement call over the values and virtues we wish to see in our prospective owners. And from that perspective, I believe a majority of United fans can see through the veil.
I cant imagine, given an ideal scenario, that United fans would prefer nation state owners over Sir Jim, or as mentioned in my last article, Lord O’Neill, Apple, or Amazon.
Unfortunately, with bids due by February 16th, it appears more likely than not that United will soon be owned by an Arab sovereign fund. United fans can only hope that Friday is an arbitrary day simply to fish out serious bidders. Hopefully the deadline for proposals can be extended to make time for other serious bidders to surface.
For now, I shall continue to cross my fingers. My hope is that owners more in fitting with United’s ethos and history eventually prevail. All we can know for sure, is that this process is far from over. There are likely to be a host of potential bidders that will come out of the woodworks as this process proceeds towards fruition.
Stay tuned to the American Red Devils blog and pod for updates on the Qatari bid for Manchester United and other bids as they mature.
Glory, Glory Man United.
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