Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince bid to buy Manchester United 'completely false', says minister

The Sun newspaper reported that Mohammed bin Salman had stepped up efforts to buy Premier League club for £3.8 billion

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. G20 Press Office via AP
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. G20 Press Office via AP

Saudi Arabia has denied reports that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman intends to buy Premier League club Manchester United, while confirming talks were held between the English giants and the country's sovereign wealth fund.

The Sun newspaper first reported over the weekend that the Saudi royal was stepping up his bid to become the club's new owner for the 2019/20 season with a proposed £3.8 billion (Dh18bn) takeover.

Speculation has grown about Saudi interest in United since the club signed a "strategic partnership" with the kingdom's General Sports Authority in 2017. But Saudi media minister Turki Al Shabanah has distanced the country from a takeover.

"Reports claiming that HRH the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman intends on buying @ManUtd are completely false," Al-Shabanah tweeted, adding United officials held a meeting with the Kingdom's Public Investment Fund (PIF) to discuss a sponsorship opportunity but that nothing had come of it.

United are yet to respond to The Sun's report but it is understood United's current owners, the Glazer family, will not countenance any offer to sell their share in one of the word's biggest sports brands. The Glazers bought United in 2005 and maintained control after floating part of the record 20-time English champions on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012.

United already have business interests with Saudi Arabia, with Saudi Telecom the club's official integrated telecommunications partner.

The club also signed a memorandum of understanding with the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia last year to help develop football industry in the country.

United are ranked third in the latest Deloitte "Football Money League" published last month, behind only Spanish pair Real Madrid and Barcelona, with annual revenues of €666m.

The paper said a bid was first submitted in October but the fallout from the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's embassy in Istanbul put the "skids" on a potential offer.

The Crown Prince has shown a big appetite for bringing sporting events to his country over the past couple of years, including motor sport and boxing, while Brazil and Argentina played a football international in Riyadh last October.

Updated: February 18, 2019 02:23 PM

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