David Beckham and a group of other famous former players are considering leading a $3 billion takeover bid for Manchester United funded by the Qatari royal family, British media reported on Thursday. The claim was first made in The Sun tabloid.
The club, one of the world’s best-known, said it knew of no bids to buy it from the current owners, the Glazer family led by businessman Malcolm Glazer, and that it was not for sale.
The Sun report said Beckham and fellow former players Paul Scholes, Phil and Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt had met to discuss the idea. Beckham, one of soccer’s global stars, played for Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain before retiring last season.
Manchester United is believed to be hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, and has been performing below its usual high standards since longtime manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired last year and was replaced by David Moyes. English champion last season, United has no prospect of retaining the title this year. Local rival Manchester City, which is owned by Sheikh Mansour, deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, has eclipsed United as Manchester’s top team.
Qatar is to host the soccer World Cup in 2022, and the region’s interest in English soccer is unprecedentedly high.
New York-based businessman Malcolm Glazer owns United and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a National Football League team based in Florida. He is one of several Jewish owners or majority stake holders at top English teams, including Roman Abramovich (Chelsea) and Randy Lerner (Aston Villa). Several top clubs, including Fulham and Hull City, have Arab owners.