I find it quite strange that just the other day I was thinking to myself that the persistent rumours about the never ending takeover of Manchester United by the investment arm of the Qatari Royal Family had gone quiet of late and wondered if any possibility of this had gone dead.
Lo and behold, news feeds this morning were full of rumours regarding a new bid being close to completion and the weekend’s Manchester Derby would be the last under American ownership. It’s worth pointing out that the obligatory quick denial by the Glazer family was also made.
Ever since the Payment In Kind notes had been paid off, there has been speculation as to why, and how, this financial move was made. Some pointed to the fact this strategy is often employed as a “house keeping” measure to clean up the finances, paving the way for an offer that they “can’t refuse” and the one name that has so regularly been mentioned is that of Qatari Royal family, with the promise of some Middle Eastern Oil money clearing the ever growing clouds of debt hanging over Old Trafford and once again allowing all involved to breathe easy. And no I have not forgotten the Red Knights, but I considered their bid a bit of posturing without any serious substance with a bid based on a serious decline in financial fortune rather than making an offer that would entertain the Glazers at any point, rather like the situation at Liverpool not so long ago.
In all, regardless of what is thought of the Glazers, unless there is a major change in the situation for them, I cannot see them letting go of their one greatest assets, considering their shopping malls are failing and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are largely devoid of any investment of late. It’s fair to say it would take a truly astronomical sum for them to accept an offer, because clearly, doubling the money they originally “paid” for United (mostly helped by banks) is not a great return in their world.
But as much as the idea of a debt free United with the free spending power that the “noisy neighbours” have enjoyed lately, have we really considered what this would mean on the whole for United?
Complete ownership by a Middle Eastern backer has not brought the happiest of times to Eastlands: signings at vastly inflated prices by people in the boardroom who want them rather than the manager himself (Robinho), massively inflated wages, even by Premier League standards and a consistent battle against egos that are unhappy at constantly being made to sit on the bench. There is a complete lack of balance, even if they have they have the power to keep buying until a trophy is sitting in the cabinet. With this in mind, it begs the question: is it all worth the trouble if it means a more secure financial future at Old Trafford?
If we assess the situation, at least in the short term a lot of benefit would be gained, chief among is the clearance of the huge debt and the possibility of funds being made available, with Sir Alex Ferguson miraculously finding “value” in the transfer market beyond Bebe. But besides all this would we see the same issues that have plagued City this season? How long would it be before the Chairman decides he wants to make more of the signings, or have more of a say in team selection?
With all the money he will have invested, he would want to see his funds being put to good use. One positive that can be made of the Glazers is that they have not pushed team selections in the way that Abramovich at Chelsea has, for example. As well as this, how long do we expect this ownership to last? Would it all last beyond the 2022 World Cup? And what of the very real possibility that the finances of Qatar Royal Holdings are as false and as weak as those of DIC a few years back?
Over and over, I have thought about the idea of United being under new ownership as a positive thing, but when all things are considered I have some serious doubts. In my opinion any ownership model requires some input from the fans, and a structure similar to those in Germany or in Spain similar to that or Real Madrid or Barcelona, albeit with slightly less extravagance.
So with this in mind, what do you, the reader, think? As United fans, what sort of takeover, if any, would appeal to you?
Post your comments below.
Follow Zayd Jawad on twitter @Zayd90