Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia have ruled out a state-backed takeover of Manchester United due to their investment in Newcastle.

Newcastle were subject to a Saudi-financed consortium takeover last year with the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Public Investment Fund (PIF), purchasing an 80 per cent stake to become majority shareholders at St. James’ Park.

PIF are said to be worth £320billion, which makes them roughly 13-times richer than Manchester City’s owners, but they would be unable to buy United from the Glazers because they already control a majority stake in Newcastle.

Newcastle’s takeover has also faced immense scrutiny and accusations of sportswashing due to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, which has led to calls for the Premier League to change their owners’ and directors’ test.

Saudi Arabia’s sports minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, told The Times this week: “The PIF just invested in Newcastle and I think we are focusing as a PIF on that. If there is a private investor that wants to come in, why not.

“I think it is a good opportunity and if the numbers add up and we can all benefit from that from a business perspective, why not. If there really is an opportunity that benefits us I would encourage the private sector to do so.”

Although PIF is invested in Newcastle, that would not prevent investment from the private sector in the Kingdom.

Sheffield United were already owned by Abdullah bin Musaid Al Saud, who founded a paper manufacturing company in 1989, before the Newcastle takeover and he bought 50 per cent of the club in 2013 before assuming full control in 2019.

Avram Glazer said on Wednesday: “We’re going to look at all different strategic alternatives and we’ll see where that leads us.”

It’s currently unknown whether the Glazers want to sell a majority share at Old Trafford.

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