Sir Jim Ratcliffe, American consortiums, and Middle East investors are all in on a bidding war for a former United player.
As the race to buy Manchester United heats up, different groups have asked David Beckham to back their bids.
As a sign that people are getting ready for a PR war before Friday’s “soft” deadline, the former captain of England is among the big names being considered for endorsements.
Beckham had said at the beginning of the process that he would be willing to talk. In recent years, he has become more involved in investing in football.
So, Beckham has been a target a few times in the last few weeks, just before a takeover race that looks like it will pit Sir Jim Ratcliffe against American consortiums and investors from the Middle East.
Bidding teams often go after “legends” of the club in order to win over fans and the outgoing ownership. Experts in the business world think that Sir Alex Ferguson, who has won the Premier League 13 times, will also have been contacted before offers of £5 billion or more this week.
But Beckham is said to have turned down offers so far, and he won’t be part of any deal, even if Qatar, where he works as an ambassador, has their offer accepted.
Bidders had seen Beckham, who is still one of the most well-known British faces in the world, as a long-term asset. This came as a surprise to those involved.
The 47-year-old played for United from when he was young until 2003, when he moved to Real Madrid. He stopped playing ten years ago and is now a co-owner of the Major League Soccer team Inter Miami CF.
Last week, Telegraph Sport reported that at least four serious candidates have come forward before the loose deadline of February 17 for formal offers to be sent by email. Senior dealmakers say that Saudi Arabia is also in the running, but the city of Doha, which is just across the border, seems to have the most serious interest from the Middle East.
Qatar Sports Investments, which is not connected to Paris St.-Germain, is expected to make an offer to buy all of United by the end of the week. Ratcliffe, on the other hand, has given the strongest sign yet that he has funding in place. For the past few weeks, he has been working with two well-known investment banks. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase & Co. are willing to back his offer with bonds and loans that are worth more than the £659 million United already owes.
The deadline for offers is Friday, which lets the club follow orders to make a deal before the end of the season. With this in mind, prices could be based on whether or not the team gets into the Champions League. Formal bids will be taken for both buying out the whole company and just a small part of it. Ratcliffe has made a fortune of £6.33 billion, but United isn’t sure if he will pay the asking price because he walked away from talks with Chelsea last year. Sources have now confirmed that he has asked for more money to make an offer that would be much bigger than any of his other sports investments.
Sources say that the Qatari people who might compete with Ratcliffe for a deal are not the same as the Qatar Sports Investment group, which owns PSG. When asked if the investors would take any money from the Qatar Investment Authority, a government fund worth £360 billion, no such guarantees were given.
When asked about investment by an American news station last month, Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud, the head of the QIA, did not rule out a deal with United. In the US, groups that lost out to Todd Boehly and Clearlake last year in the race to buy Chelsea are said to have tried again this year.
It is thought that the Ricketts family consortium, which was one of the last four bids for Chelsea, won’t be one of the bidders for United.
Sir Martin Broughton has said that a price of more than $5 billion is too high, but the involvement of the Middle East may be a big factor in setting a price ceiling.
During the tense Chelsea sale last summer, some bidders tried to get an edge by going after big names like Serena Williams and Lewis Hamilton.
This time, merchant bank Raine has been successful in keeping all but one potential buyer from going public about their plans to buy Manchester United. Beckham is the first person who is known to have been contacted, which shows that a big PR war could still start.
Getting United fans on board is important as possible new regimes try to restore faith after the Glazer regime lost a lot of support. Concerns about sports-washing would need to be put to rest for a Qatar bid, for example, and American bidders will need to show they are not the same as the Glazers.
But the club’s history of almost unmatched glory means that bidders will have no trouble finding people to ask for support in the coming days and weeks.
Beckham is still a valuable asset and one of the most well-known athletes in the world. Even though it’s been 10 years since he stopped playing, he still has deals with Adidas, the watch brand Tudor, the life insurance company AIA, and Haig Club whisky, which is made by the drinks company Diageo.
He is also good at using his political power to be a good example in football. He was on the team that won the bid for the London 2012 Olympics, but he was also on the team that lost the bid for the 2018 World Cup. Lord Coe said at the time, “He has stardust. He is a character you can believe in.”
In October 2021, it came out that he had agreed to be an ambassador for Qatar for more than £12 million a year, which took some of the shine off of Goldenballs. Beckham’s official reason for working with the 2022 tournament was that he wanted to use football “as a force for good” in a country he has been visiting “for more than a decade.”
He seems to still be under contract with the country, and there may be a chance that the contract could be extended. Beckham’s face was on posters and ads during the tournament. Due to the country’s anti-LGBT laws, he was criticized over and over again for his role, including by comedian Joe Lycett. Beckham’s spokespeople said in response, “We understand that there are different and strongly held views about engagement in the Middle East. However, we see it as a good thing that the first World Cup to be held in the region has directly sparked debate about the key issues.”
Beckham could buy shares in Man Utd.With the exception of the Qatar deal, there has been a big move away from brand endorsements, which may be the main reason Beckham has turned down different offers. Instead, he has been focusing on investments because he wants to be as rich as Michael Jordan, who is now worth more than £1 billion. Cellular Goods, a company that makes synthetic cannabinoids, is one of his businesses. He also has a long-term minority stake in Salford City and, with his brothers Jorge and Jose Mas, will buy Inter Miami outright in 2021.