Mystery bidder tipped to rival Qatar and Ratcliffe for Man Utd power

Glazers out? – Takeover talk ramps up at Manchester United

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Manchester United have been tipped to be of interest to Atalanta owner Stephen Pagliuca. The Glazers confirmed back in November they were open to selling the club after nearly two decades at the helm. Right now, however, Qatar and Sir Jim Ratcliffe seem to be frontrunners.

The Glazers have been divisive figures at United ever since purchasing the club back in 2005, with fans often opposed to their regime.

And while there’s reportedly a split within the family behind the scenes over what to do with the Red Devils, a full takeover remains a strong possibility.

Ratcliffe’s interest has been well-documented, with the British billionaire previously missing out on Chelsea to Todd Boehly last year.

Qatar, too, have shown interest with the state looking to buy a Premier League superpower following a successful World Cup in the Middle East.

Journalist Ben Jacobs, however, thinks Atalanta owner Pagliuca is one to watch – with the American previously being a ‘mystery bidder’ for Chelsea last year.

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Speaking to Football Insider, Jacobs said: “Don’t be surprised if after all of this hype around Ratcliffe and Qatar and possibly Saudi Arabia, we actually see more than one credible bid coming out of North America.

“That is because entities do not do their business in public.

“If you are a private investment firm, you may not want it out there that this is your strategy.

“You may not want it out there that these are the funds you have got and are prepared to pay until after you are successful.

“Who knows what other direction you will choose to move in if you are not successful and then you have actually let slip in the market what your valuation is, what your strategy is and that can affect you detrimentally even though the more public it is the better it is for the Man United stock price.

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“So when we think about North American names, I would say Harris and Blitzer have always been one to watch.

“They will not be combining with Sir Martin Broughton like they did for Chelsea. Broughton is out of the mix for Liverpool and never had an interest in Man United.

“Harris Blitzer could still be there potentially for minority investment and Steve Pagliuca is yet to comment.

“I do not think we can read too much into it but he was the mystery bidder for Chelsea and he owns Atalanta in Serie A and is also the co-owner of the Boston Celtics so there would also be some issues between Atalanta and Man United.

“But let’s see whether he is a part of any group as he was with Chelsea.

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“At the moment it is just a ‘no comment’, we can’t read too much into that but it is those kind of names.“

Given Pagliuca is co-owner of Atalanta, United would potentially face some issues if he were to take power.

That’s the same with Qatar, with key figures in the country already leading affairs at Paris Saint-Germain.

A human rights advocacy group FairSquare have today written to UEFA to call on Qatar to be blocked from potentially buying United.

“A basic study of Qatar’s political and economic system amply demonstrates the impossibility of any Qatari consortium proving itself independent of state influence, and thus separate from the ownership of PSG,” their letter said.

“Freedom House’s World Freedom Index classifies Qatar as ‘not free’, and its most recent assessment is highly critical of Qatar’s record on the rule of law, corruption, and political participation: ‘Qatar’s hereditary emir holds all executive and legislative authority and ultimately controls the judiciary.’”

It continued: “UEFA’s Statutes are very clear on the critical importance of ensuring that no single party can exercise control or influence over more than one club, and this is all the more important when the owners are states.

“State ownership of European football clubs jeopardises the integrity of the game, its proclaimed values and its sustainability.”

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