Man Utd chairman flying to Saudi Arabia amid takeover talk

MANCHESTER United co-chairman Avram Glazer is due in Saudi Arabia next week – fuelling talk of Saudi investment in the Premier League club.

Glazer is scheduled to speak at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, a gathering of the oil-rich nation’s top brass and investors and bankers from around the world.

But fans believe Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, the conference host, wants to buy into United and take on Middle East rivals like the Abu Dhabi-based owners of Manchester City and the Qataris who control Paris Saint-Germain.

According to reports from the Middle East the price would be around £4bn.

The move would form part of the Salmans’ plan to diversify Saudi Arabia’s future economy away from oil.

They also hope to compete with fellow Gulf states Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as world football powers.

Qatar owns French giants Paris St Germain and is hosting the 2022 World Cup.

Manchester City are owned by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour.

United have long-term links with Saudi Arabia.

Last year the club agreed a “memorandum of understanding” with the Arab country’s General Sports Authority to help a “sustainable and thriving football” sector.

But the Glazer family’s public stance is always that they have no interest in selling United.

The event which Manchester United Avram Glazer is due to attend next week is nicknamed “Davos in the Desert”.

Davos is the Swiss location for the annual World Economic Forum, and the Future Investment Initiative conference is being held in Riyadh for the second time as Saudi Arabia bids to make itself an outward-looking financial and political powerhouse.

Glazer’s presence there, following other visits to the oil-rich country, has been noted with interest.

The event which Manchester United Avram Glazer is due to attend next week is nicknamed “Davos in the Desert”.

The United co-chairman is due to speak on the second day of the event, Wednesday October 24, in a forum about the power of sport and future trends for investment.

But experts believe that, behind the official agenda, the Saudis want to talk about buying into United.

Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s 2030 Vision is all about transforming Saudi Arabia and its image abroad.

It comes after the alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

According to United’s official website the “strategic partnership” involves “United lending its business and sporting expertise to clubs, sporting authorities and individuals in Saudi Arabia”.

“The partnership forms part of Saudi Vision 2030 – the plan to diversify the Saudi economy and to develop its public sectors, announced last year by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman,” the website said.

United’s group managing director Richard Arnold said at the time: “The club has a long-standing relationship with Saudi Arabia and has over five million passionate fans in the region.

“Our partnership with Saudi Telecom is the longest running of all our commercial partners.

“Having the chance to help shape the football industry in the Kingdom is a great honour and it is something where we believe we can make a big difference.”

Earlier this year Saudi Arabia striker Mohammad Al-Sahlawi, 31, was invited to spend three weeks training with United to sharpen his game before the summer World Cup in Russia.

According to web football forums and Twitter the Salmans want to take over the club which has struggled so far this season sitting eighth in the Premier League amid rumours boss Jose Mourinho could be sacked.

One United fan messaged: “I’m hearing #MUFC reps met with Arabs to potentially buy us – could be huge this.”

United and Salman have not commented on the speculation.

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