Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani’s eye-watering bid to buy Manchester United will reportedly not face any issues with the new and stricter owners’ and directors’ test. The Premier League has voted in favour of tighter restrictions on who can own their clubs, including barring individuals linked with human rights abuses.
There were concerns that the new rules could affect Sheikh Jassim, who is the son of the former Qatari prime minister. Qatar’s human rights record has been strongly condemned by the likes of Amnesty and other human rights watchdogs.
The test has been tightened following criticism of Newcastle’s purchase by the Saudi Public Investment Fund in October 2021. PIF was able to buy a majority stake in the Premier League club after providing evidence that it was separate to the Saudi state.
Sheikh Jassim will reportedly pass the owners’ and directors’ test should his bid be successful. That is because he is apparently making his offer as a private individual.
That is according to the BBC, which addresses United fans’ fears over the new rules. Sheikh Jassim is one of the major bidders for the Red Devils, alongside Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus.
It comes with Premier League clubs “unanimously” voting to approve several changes to the owners’ and directors’ test. Any individual or company hoping to buy a top-flight club must undertake the test, but it has previously been criticised for being toothless.
A new range of “disqualifying events” will prevent a party from buying a club if they are subject to government sanctions or are linked with human rights abuses. There will also be greater transparency over who takes the test, including reasons for why someone has failed.
Sheikh Jassim, Ratcliffe and Zilliacus are bidding to buy United from the Glazer Family. But they apparently face having to pay a record £6billion, which is the valuation set by the current owners.
Fresh offers were made by all three last week, with the second round of the takeover process now underway. However, none of the proposals are understood to meet the Glazers’ valuation.
United’s owners are set for talks with the Raine Group, the merchant bank overseeing the takeover. They could select a preferred bidder or proceed to a third round of bidding. There remains the possibility that the Glazers decide not to sell the club.