Man Utd fans protest outside Old Trafford
Manchester United are at the centre of a takeover battle as Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani battle it out to get their hands on the club. And Britain’s richest man Ratcliffe has been given a major boost by UEFA to oust his Qatari rival after the governing body decided to allow six clubs that are currently under joint ownership to compete in Europe next season.
UEFA currently have multi-club ownership regulations in place for integrity reasons and to ensure teams don’t have a potential conflict of interest. But the governing body have now confirmed that AC Milan, Aston Villa, Brighton, Union Saint-Gilloise, Toulouse and Vitoria will all be able to play European football throughout the 2023/24 campaign.
AC Milan, who are due to play in the Champions League, are owned by RedBird Capital Partners, as are Europa League group stage qualifiers Toulouse. Brighton owner Tony Bloom, meanwhile, is the majority shareholder of Belgian side Union Saint-Gilloise, with both his clubs qualifying for this season’s Europa League.
And Aston Villa have been cleared to play in the qualifying rounds of the Europa Conference League alongside Vitoria, despite the fact the Villans’ NSWE group owners have a stake in the Portuguese club.
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The developments are significant for Ratcliffe because of the fact he also owns Nice. And there had previously been rumours that he would have to sell the French club in order to complete a takeover of the Red Devils.
Ratcliffe’s current offer for United would see him purchase a majority stake in the club, while Sheikh Jassim’s proposal is for a full buyout. Ratcliffe had appeared to be falling behind the Qatari in the race to secure ownership of the Red Devils. But earlier this week the 70-year-old said: “We obviously can’t say too much because we’ve signed an NDA and we respect that but there’s still a process and we’re in the process.
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“We have a good offer. We’ve met the Glazers a couple of times and we had a good conversation but at the end of the day it’s their decision – we would still very much like to do it. I also believe we would do a good job and do it for the right reasons. We keep very focused on it. They ain’t making them anymore.
“Manchester United and these type of clubs, it’s like art or areas like that. When you have special things and their value continues to pick up over time because they are very special and rare. It doesn’t make me happy at all. But we aren’t there to make money out of it. If it’s a really good asset it will increase its value over time.”
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