The Sheikh’s takeover of United is good and bad news for Erik ten Hag

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, possibly the new owner of Manchester United, chats with United icon David Beckham.Image FIFA via Getty Images

Spokespersons for Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani were speechless on Saturday when English journalists asked about their president’s background. His age—40 or 41—was uncertain, and not the source of the banker’s fortune. His advisers can only confirm that his desire to buy Manchester United for around six billion euros was correct.

The director of the Qatari bank, the bank, indicated in a statement that he did not have to obtain loans to take over the club from coach Eric ten Hag. He wants to get his hands on the entire stock package without the involvement of third parties. A debt of nearly €600m will be paid off in one fell swoop while Old Trafford and Carrington’s training complex awaits refurbishment. United manager Eric ten Hag can attract whoever he wants.

love club

The PR machine of the son of the former Qatari prime minister says he is driven by love for the club. Sheikh Jassim does not act as an agent of the regime in the oil country, but he will let his heart speak. For this reason, he did not report last summer to Chelsea, which had to be sold due to British sanctions against its owner, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. It seemed too good to be true.

Sheikh Jassim, according to critics, has all the characteristics of an advanced pawn. After the World Cup, joining the most attractive competition on earth fits into the strategy. The problem is that Qatar already has a team in Europe with Paris Saint-Germain. UEFA rules do not allow two clubs under the same ownership to participate in the Champions League to avoid conflicts of interest.

With the Nine Two Foundation vehicle, a nod to Manchester United’s Class of ’92 (including Phil and Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham), the Sheik claims to be an independent entity. This may be true in theory, but it seems implausible. In the past, his father led the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), a massive government fund that bought PSG, among other things. The Qatar Investment Authority is also the largest shareholder in Jassim Bank.

This transparent structure should not cause any problems in UEFA. The body has previously given permission to Red Bull Salzburg and RB – RasenBallsport, because the German Confederation prohibits corporate names – Leipzig from simultaneously participating in European Cup tournaments. With Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the president of Paris Saint-Germain, the Qatari also has the president of the European Club Association (ECA); He is also a member of the UEFA Executive Committee.

Tightening of regulations

The imminent introduction of tougher regulations for club owners by the UK government could be a hurdle. If compliant, they must prove how they obtained their assets and exactly where the money came from. The fact that Sheikh Jassim’s spokespersons are unable to answer this question gives one reason for thought. In Qatar, everything is decided by the extended royal family.

A poll of Manchester United supporters showed that two-thirds of them would prefer the club to go to the English billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, who also made an official offer. Supporters feel little about Qatari rule, despite the promised mountains of gold.

Ideally, the matter should be settled before 1 July, when the transfer window opens. Ten Hag could immediately benefit from an infusion of capital. Sheikh Jassim, who was educated in the United Kingdom, is in first place. This would make Manchester United – after Newcastle United (Saudi Arabia) and Manchester City (Abu Dhabi) – the third English Premier League club owned by an oil country. At least, no one in England believed that the benefactor navigated with his own compass.

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