Manchester United are still locked in negotiations as their turbulent takeover talks continue – and Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani remains a name at the centre of a deal that will have significant ramifications for world football.
Sheikh Jassim is one of two primary contenders in the battle to buy the Old Trafford club, rivalling British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, with the groups believing they are now the frontrunning bidders in the race.
Both parties have lodged initial bids to buy the club, thought to have been worth around £4.5billion, with any potential deal to significantly exceed the record for a sports franchise sale – currently being the £3.71bn paid for the NFL’s Denver Broncos last year.
However, both parties then missed the 9pm soft deadline on Wednesday night to submit their second bids, which were expected to top £5bn, as the increasingly arduous saga rumbles on.
Sportsmail understands new offers are likely to be made on Thursday or Friday, and that Sheikh Jassim, at this stage, remains entirely confident his bid will be successful. But who exactly is the Qatari banker, who is so confident of finally replacing the Glazer family at Manchester United?
Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani is one of the leading contenders in the race to buy Manchester United
It’s unclear whether owners, the Glazer family, will seek a full sale or take a minority offer
Who exactly is Sheikh Jassim?
Before we delve into who Sheikh Jassim is, it’s worth outlining how his bid differs from Ratcliffe’s. Primarily, while Ratcliffe is seeking to buy the 69 per cent stake owned by the Glazer family, Sheikh Jassim wants 100 per cent control of the club.
The mega-rich Qatari is the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) and is also a member of the Qatari royal family. He spent much of his youth in the United Kingdom, going to school in Dorset before studying at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst.
Jassim would graduate as an officer cadet, and would go on to be a board member at one of the world’s biggest investment banks, Credit Suisse, before becoming a banker himself.
That’s where the details around Jassim become hazy. In fact, for someone who could soon possess one of the most famous faces in football, the lack of public knowledge on Sheikh Jassim is startling. It’s not even known whether he’s 40 or 41!
Much more is known about his father, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, nicknamed both ‘HBJ’ and ‘the man who bought London’, however.
HBJ, who was prime minister of Qatar between 2007 and 2013, has given £2.6m in cash to King Charles across several face-to-face meetings, delivered in a variety of suitcases, a holdall and in Fortnum & Mason carrier bags.
This money went to charity, with the handovers very much legal.
Sheikh Jassim is the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank and is a member of the Qatari royal family
His father, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, was prime minister of Qatar between 2007 and 2013
Sheikh Jassim is a life-long United fan – but the one photo showing him in a club shirt has been described as ‘not an official picture’
HBJ has also been involved in the running of Paris Saint-Germain, having been the former chair of the Qatari Investment Authority (QIA). The QIA owns the Qatar Sports Authority (QSA), who own PSG.
While UEFA do not allow an individual or entity to own more than one club in the same competition, Sheikh Jassim ensures he is independent from the QIA – and thus PSG – in theory solving that problem.
On a personal level, Sheikh Jassim is believed to be a life-long fan of Manchester United. He reportedly wears the club’s shirt during weekly five-a-side matches and has attended numerous games as a supporter.
There is only one photo showing Jassim in a United shirt, however, and a spokesman for his bid was ‘not able to confirm its authenticity’. His Nine Two Foundation, established to complete the takeover of United, is in fact a reference to the side’s famous Class of 92 squad, though.
Importantly, Jassim, who promises to restore ‘former glories on and off the pitch’, has ‘significant’ extra cash to spend on players and modernising Old Trafford on top of the funds he intends to use to buy the club.
What is Sheikh Jassim’s net worth?
Now, this isn’t the easiest question to answer. As stated, we don’t have an extensive catalogue of information on Sheikh Jassim to play with.
His father, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, has a net worth of $1.1bn (£892m), according to Forbes.
Meanwhile, his family are believed to have a collective worth of circa £275bn.
And the head of the royal family – Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani – is believed to be worth around £1.6bn alone.
What is the latest on Manchester United’s sale?
Both Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe failed to submit a second bid ahead of the 9pm deadline on Wednesday, March 22 set by US merchant bank Raine Group, which is handling the process.
That’s despite contrary claims from representatives of both parties, with the process then descending somewhat into chaos. However, Sportsmail understands delayed bids for Manchester United are set to land in the next 24 hours.
Both Sheikh Jassim’s group and Ratcliffe’s Ineos firm asked for and were granted more time. They now have a new competitor, however, being Elliott Investment Management – the former owners of AC Milan.
Delayed bids for Manchester United are set to land in the next 24 hours after last night’s chaos
Elliot Investment Management have now lodged their own proposal for a minority stake – though it remains to be seen whether the Glazers will seek a full sale or take a minority offer. Importantly, should the Glazers’ valuation of United not be met, they will not sell.
Both leading parties visited Old Trafford last week as they stepped up their bids. A delegation from Sheikh Jassim’s bid were given presentations and the opportunity to ask questions. Talks went on for more than 10 hours and were described as cordial and positive.
Ratcliffe and his group also visited Old Trafford, though their visit was around three hours shorter. However, they made a good impression on those involved in the process.
Elliott Investment Management were one of a number of groups to be given presentations in Manchester and were so impressed that they decided to make their own offer.
What has Sheikh Jassim said about buying Man Utd?
Sheikh Jassim mapped out his plans for Manchester United in February, when he outlined his intentions to buy the club.
Crucially, Sheikh Jassim insists he will ensure the club is completely debt-free, while vowing to invest in all areas of the club.
A statement released read: ‘Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani today confirmed his submission of a bid for 100 per cent of Manchester United Football Club.
Sheikh Jassim vows to bring United – managed by Erik ten Hag – back to its former glories
‘The bid plans to return the club to its former glories both on and off the pitch and – above all – will seek to place the fans at the heart of Manchester United Football Club once more.
‘The bid will be completely debt free via Sheikh Jassim’s Nine Two Foundation, which will look to invest in the football teams, the training centre, the stadium and wider infrastructure, the fan experience, and communities the club supports.
‘The vision of the bid is for Manchester United Football Club to be renowned for footballing excellence, and regarded as the greatest football club in the world.
‘More details of the bid will be released, when appropriate, if and when the bid process develops.’