Saudi Arabia’s sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal has admitted the private sector in his country ‘could come in’ to buy Manchester United, as the Saudis are linked with a takeover of the Red Devils.
The club’s owners, the Glazers, announced on Tuesday that they are ‘exploring strategic alternatives’ and could be willing to sell the 20-time English champions after 17 years in charge in Manchester. Several organisations and groups have been linked with a bid for United, including Dubai, Apple, Amazon and the UK’s richest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
But the Saudi sports minister has all but expressed his interest in a takeover, despite the nation’s Private Investment Fund currently owning Premier League rivals Newcastle United. Speaking on Thursday, Al-Faisal said certain individuals from Saudi Arabia ‘would love’ to be a part of such an historic club.
“If there are investors and the numbers add up, and it makes good business, the private sector could come in,” Al-Faisal admitted to Sky News. “Sports and Saudis will benefit from these collaborations because we already do exchange programmes with Newcastle and connections throughout the world. The Premier League is the best league in the world, everyone’s watching, it’s the most watched league in Saudi and in the region.
“I am not in charge of that,” he added, when asked if he personally would like to oversee a takeover of a club. “But I think an opportunity like that, anyone would love to be a part of because you go to a club with such history and heritage and success.”
Al-Faisal was also asked about reports linking Cristiano Ronaldo with a move to the Saudi Pro League following his exit from United earlier this week, and the country’s sports minister admitted he would love to see the Portugal star and Lionel Messi one day play in the middle-east.
“Who wouldn’t want him to play in their league? He’s a role model for young people, him and Messi,” he responded. “I’d love to see them both in the league, and top players coming to the Saudi league. That would reinforce the programmes we are doing and show that the league is strong.”