Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has stepped up his proposed £3.8billion takeover of Manchester United, according to reports.
United chiefs have spent an increasing amount of time in Saudi Arabia, according to The Sun, who claim the Crown Prince is looking to become the club’s new owner by next season.
The Saudi royal family are worth an estimated £850billion and are hoping the current owners of the Premier League giants – the Glazer family are tempted into selling up.
And while sources close to Old Trafford have denied the Glazers want to sell, the scale of the offer could prove hugely tempting.
United was purchased by the American family for £790million in 2005 so they would make a staggering £2.2bn profit if they were to accept the offer.
The Sun reported in October that there was Saudi interest in the club in October and that buying United outright was the top choice.
However, the Crown Prince’s advances were scuppered by a diplomatic row over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.
The £3.8bn valuation on the club also depends on whether interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can guide United to a spot in the top four and thus Champions League qualification for next season. A compromise is likely to be reached on a lower valuation if that doesn’t happen.
Crown Prince Salman is keen to buy the club in order to compete with local rivals Manchester City, who have been owned by Sheikh Mansour of the Abu Dhabi royal family since 2008. Saudi Arabia has already made investments in sport through deals with F1 and WWE.
However, a ban on the broadcasting of Qatar’s beIN SPORTS has also been enforced in Saudi Arabia.
Buying into United would thus represent a massive statement in the wider financial and political battles being fought between the Gulf states.