UK government officials could put pressure on the Premier League to pose tough questions if Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani presses ahead with his efforts to buy Manchester United. Concerns have reportedly been flagged around the prominent Qatari banker, relating to his time in charge of the Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB).
QIB, of which Sheikh Jassim has been chairman since 2006, were hit with a £1.4million fine in 2016 for violating capital requirements and leaving the firm exposed to high levels of risk.
According to Bloomberg, government personnel have privately flagged concerns about his takeover bid on the basis of those regulatory failings. There is no suggestion that the government will intervene to stop the United deal, although they could ask the Premier League to put pressure on when conducting their due dilligence.
Bank of England (BOE) governor Andrew Bailey said at the time that QIB had fallen short of 'the most basic regulatory standards'. The bank has since undergone significant restructuring to stop similar events unfolding in the future.
Spokespeople for Sheikh Jassim and the UK government's Department of Culture, Media and Sport have so far declined to comment.
The government recently unveiled major reforms on the governance of sporting assets to focus on financial security and tougher ownership criteria. Sheikh Jassim's bid for Man Utd is believed to stand at around £5billion, while British petrochemicals billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also in the running.
The Glazers admitted last year that they are exploring strategic alternatives after feeling the wrath of United fans for years, although they have never explicitly committed to a full sale.
Entourages for both Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe visited Old Trafford last month for a tour of the facilities and a new round of talks. Ratcliffe is a boyhood United fan, while Sheikh Jassim has stressed that his bid, through a private initiative called the Nine Two Foundation, is independent of the Qatari state.