On Thursday, representatives from the Nine Two Foundation, led by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, met with the Manchester United management in person at Old Trafford to hold discussions.
UK government officials have expressed their private approval of Qatari investment in Manchester United, as the club’s owners are considering a £4 billion bid from Sheikh passim bin Hamad Al-Thani, reported Politico.
A senior UK trade envoy suggested that foreign investment from the Middle East, whether in football or green energy, should be embraced by Britain.
Another government figure, who is closely involved in the proposed deal, said that Sheikh Jassim, the chairman of the Qatari Islamic Bank, would be a good investment if it came with assurances that the wider community would benefit.
While both officials spoke anonymously, an official from the Department for Business and Trade clarified that the UK government was not actively involved in the potential sale of Manchester United and had no opinion on Qatar’s bid.
Recently, the UK government has faced criticism for trying to enhance economic relationships with Qatar and other Middle Eastern nations accused of human rights violations.
Last year, leaked documents indicated that a member of the trade department attempted to facilitate the sale of Newcastle United to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
Representatives of Sheikh Jassim met with the owners of Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday, and is now viewed as the frontrunner to purchase the club, surpassing Jim Ratcliffe’s rival bid.
The American Glazer family intends to sell the club after owning a majority stake for 18 years.
Al-Thani has stated that his bid does not have any involvement from the country’s sovereign wealth fund or government, but some observers have doubts about its real independence from the small but wealthy Gulf state.
Someone who is closely associated with Sheikh Jassim’s offer stated that they are “confident” that there would be no interference from the UK government if the bid is accepted and emphasised that “Qatar is a strong ally of the UK,” reported Politico.
“Sheikh Jassim wouldn’t put himself out there if he didn’t think the bid would be successful,” they added.