Doha, Qatar – Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani has submitted his third and final bid to buy Manchester United football club, his representatives told Al Jazeera.
Jassim’s bid was submitted before the Friday night (21:00 GMT) deadline set by the club’s current owners, the Glazer family of the United States.
“We can confirm that Sheikh Jassim has submitted his final bid for MUFC,” his representatives told Al Jazeera on Saturday.
Jassim is the chairman of a leading Qatari bank and son of a former Qatari prime minister.
The lifelong United fan’s “debt-free bid”, which was first submitted in February, seeks full ownership of the club.
His representatives said that in addition to offering an undisclosed figure to buy the club – money that would go to the sellers – Jassim’s proposal also includes “a plan to invest a further significant amount of additional capital and infrastructure investment into the club directly [not to the sellers]”.
British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe was the only party to submit a bid before Friday’s deadline, according to a report by British state broadcaster BBC.
Ratcliffe, founder and head of the INEOS chemicals conglomerate, is reportedly seeking 69 percent ownership of the club, the same percentage owned by the Glazers.
The Qatari businessman’s bid was submitted through his Nine Two Foundation and promised a rosy future for the club if he were to be successful, including “investment in the football teams, the training centre, the stadium and wider infrastructure, the fan experience and the communities the club supports”.
By proposing to take over, Jassim “plans to return the club to its former glories both on and off the pitch”.
Jassim’s bid has not come as a surprise to experts who say it aligns with his country’s ambition to be seen as a sporting powerhouse.
His interest in Manchester United suggests that Qatar is embarking on the next stage of this ambition, according to Ross Griffin, an assistant professor at Qatar University whose research interests include the portrayal of the Arab world in Western media and the relationship between sport and postcolonial society.
“Qatar’s ambition [in sport] is breaking up into two branches,” he said.
“The first will continue to focus on Qatar hosting sporting events such as the Asian Cup in 2024 and the Asian Games in 2030 while the potential purchase of a Premier League football club would be part of the second branch.”
The Glazers announced plans to sell the club last November and the bidding process began in February. They reportedly want to sell for 6 billion pounds ($7.5m), a record fee for a sport club.
Jassim’s representatives said “it is now time for the sellers to make a decision as to how they will proceed” with the bidding process.
The Glazers have not confirmed when the process will close and if the club will change hands at all.