LONDON: Qatari investors are planning to make a huge bid to buy the Premier League club Manchester United, the Daily Mail newspaper has reported, citing unnamed sources.
The report described the investors as “a group of private, high-wealth individuals” from Qatar, which hosted the 2022 World Cup.
United declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
New York-listed shares of Manchester United jumped nearly 13% in premarket trading in response to the news.
British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe formally entered the bidding process to buy United last month through his company Ineos, after the club’s American owners, the Florida-based Glazer family, said in November they had begun looking at options including new investment or a potential sale.
The Qatari bid would come from separate, individual investors who want to achieve a full takeover, the Daily Mail reported late Tuesday, citing people it did not identify.
Bloomberg News reported last month that Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), which owns Paris St Germain, was considering either a total takeover or a stake in Manchester United or their rivals Liverpool.
United fans have been clamouring for a change of ownership. The Glazers have been the target of intense criticism as the team last won silverware back in 2017, lifting the Europa League and League Cup trophies.
In April last year, thousands protested outside Old Trafford, lighting flares and singing songs demanding the Glazers “get out of the club”.
United’s net debt, another bone of contention among fans, had grown to £515 million ($620 million) as of last September.
The takeover talk comes at a time when the club appears to have turned the corner where its performance on the pitch is concerned.
The team, managed by Erik ten Hag, are third in the league on 42 points after 21 games, three points behind Manchester City but eight adrift of leaders Arsenal, who have played a game less.