- Manchester United takeover process is well in the process and the club might get new owners soon
- The ownership of football clubs has never had more attention than it does right now
- We discuss how changes to Premier League owners’ and directors’ test mean for Manchester United’s takeover
Following the takeovers of clubs such as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, followed by Newcastle and now possibly Manchester United, there is a greater emphasis on where the money comes from and how it is spent.
The emphasis is currently on Manchester United, with the Glazer family ready to sell and various bidders attempting to become the new owners of one of the world’s most powerful sports teams.
However, in the midst of the Red Devils bidding process, changes to the owners’ and directors’ roles were authorized at a shareholders’ gathering on Thursday.
What Premier League owners’ and directors’ test changes do
A prospective owner, part-owner, or team director must satisfy certain Premier League requirements.
Following the takeovers of Manchester City and Newcastle, there is a lack of clarity as to whether the clubs are effectively owned by the states of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, respectively.
One of the major adjustments made during the meeting, which included clubs and stakeholders, is that the threshold for club control has been reduced from 30% to 25%.
They have also added a number of disqualifying events, which are things that can prevent someone from becoming engaged in football team ownership. They include potential disqualifications for individuals or businesses under government sanction, as well as those under investigation for “conduct that would result in a Disqualifying Event if proven.”
The procedure will now be more transparent, and any individuals or companies who are disqualified will be publicly named. Perhaps the most significant shift is that, in 2020, a new provision for human rights violations is being developed based on Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations.
These may not be the only changes made, as the Premier League will now confer with teams and stakeholders on additional reforms, which will be discussed at the league’s annual general meeting in June.
How does it affect the sale of Manchester United?
Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his company INEOS look to be competing for ownership of Manchester United, as does Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Bin Khalife Al-Thani of Qatar.
He is the previous prime minister of Qatar’s son and the CEO of Qatar Islamic Bank. A proposal from Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus is also on the table, though many regard it as less credible than Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim.
The most obvious way that the new regulations could affect the sale of Manchester United is if it is determined that Sheikh Jassim is essentially buying the club on behalf of the Qatari government and they fail to pass the provision for human rights abuses, which could have stymied the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund takeover of Newcastle.
Sheikh Jassim has maintained that his bid is independent of the government and will be funded through his Nine Two Foundation. Even with the new rules, the trend of ownership in the Premier League and at the highest level of European football indicates that no rules will stand in his way.
Given that the Glazers have not expressly stated that they want to sell the entire club, the changes also require the current bidders to commit to at least a 30% stake in the club, despite the fact that all three of the listed parties were already above that level of investment.