190218 manchester united 2
Paris Saint-Germain's defender Juan Bernat (R) vies with Manchester United's midfielder Ander Herrera (L), Juan Mata (2L) and Nemanja Matic during the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 football match between Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at Old Trafford in Manchester. Image Credit: AFP

Manama: Saudi Arabia has denied reports that Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman sought to acquire the famous English football club Manchester United, saying there was a misunderstanding.

“Reports that claimed that HRH Prince Mohammad Bin Salman intended to take over Manchester United are completely false,” Minister of Media Turki Al Shabana posted on his Twitter account.

“The fact is that Manchester United held a meeting with the Saudi Public Investment Fund to discuss sponsorship opportunities, and the Fund listened to the proposals, like any investment fund would do. No deal materialised.”

In October last year, the Sun newspaper reported that Manchester United “are a prime target for investment and a potential takeover from Saudi Arabia” and the Saudis were ready to pay £3.8 billion for the club.

On Sunday, the newspaper reported that Prince Mohammad “is stepping up his £3.8bn takeover bid of Manchester United in the hope of becoming the new owner by next season.”

“Sources around Old Trafford have always denied the Glazers want to sell, but the mega offer could be too good to turn down,” the newspaper reported.

“The American family purchased United for £790million almost 14 years ago but saddled the club with huge debt. But it seems like it will work out pretty well for them if they do sell - making an astronomical £2.2billion profit.”

Who owns Manchester United?

Manchester United is owned by the Glazer family who own Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a professional American football team based in Tampa, Florida, and competing in the National Football League.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) was set up in 1971 to support projects of strategic significance to the Saudi economy.

The fund initially focused on the Saudi domestic market as “a leading economic player that has contributed to the development of national investment entities constituting the foundation for overall development while contributing to the establishment of many of the largest companies in Saudi Arabia.”

Diversify the economy

However, in recent years it started “building a world-class, diversified portfolio through investments in attractive, long-term opportunities at both the domestic and international level.”

Under Vision 2030 launched by Crown Prince Mohammad, PIF has become central to the government’s effort to diversify the economy away from oil.

According to Bloomberg, it has about 200 global investments and assets of around $230 billion.