MANCHESTER, Oct 16 – Manchester United could be in line for huge investment as reports have indicated Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud’s interest in acquiring at least a portion of the Premier League giants. FOX Sports Asia run the rule over the potential takeover.
You could point out to a variety of reasons to justify the mess Manchester United are in these days. A wishy-washy transfer strategy from Ed Woodward and Jose Mourinho’s inability to get the best out of his players are two prime reasons with the fan base divided as to who to blame. And it’s fair to say both the factions would agree that the Glazers have made United a business that plays football on weekends isntead of a football club that is also a well-run business.
The abhorrence that is mutually shared for the Glazers by United fans turned into joy when the news of a possible new ownership broke on Monday. Although details are still vague, it seems as though many fans would certainly make do with having a billionaire Arab owner after 13 years of being owned by Americans who have shown little regard for the footballing aspect of the club.
But if there is something common between the Glazers and Saudi crown prince Mohammed, then it is the fact both care little about actual football. Andy Walsh led a host of United fans towards establishing FC United of Manchester in 2005 fearing the Glazers would transform their beloved club into a commercial organ of their nametag and that’s exactly what has transpired.
Prince Mohammed’s family is valued at £850 billion. But the slate the 33-year-old has isn’t clean by any means. United should fear whether they’ll become even more short-termist than they are now and also lose the values that the Old Trafford faithfuls treasure if ever the Saudi royal family takes over.
From outside, Prince Mohammed happens to be a youthful and vibrant face of a youthful and emerging nation. The images of him smiling at cameras and meeting prominent world leaders may signal promise and tales of how he has made the Saudi society more liberalised than it ever was in recent years could add to the optimism.
His father King Salman is currently 82 and suffers from an early form of dementia. He shocked the world when he appointed his son as the Defense Minister back in 2015 and it was a move that drew criticism largely because of Prince Mohammed’s relatively young age.
Prince Mohammed entered the office facing the Yemen crisis. Yemen’s capital Sanaa was taken over by Shiite rebel group Houthis. The unpopular Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi government had to resign and flee and the port city of Aden had nearly fallen to the Houthi rebels, but Prince Mohammed called for war.
He ordered the blockade of ports and airstrikes were launched at prominent markets, hospitals and clinics killing uncountable civilians. The United Nations figures suggest around 10,000 people were killed in what it labelled as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in recent times.
The New York Times stated that the war on Yemen was carried out without the approval of other security services and that the then Saudi National Guard Minister Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah was not informed about a potential attack on the Arab world’s poorest country.
Prince Mohammed though sold the war as a win over Houthi rebels “who deserved to be put in their place” and in an interview with The Economist, which called him the ‘architect of the war in Yemen’, he denied any wrongdoing.
Similarly, after having begun his reign, Mohammed pioneered to draft laws allowing women to drive, attend football and cinema halls. Footages of women driving, attending games and cinema halls became popular across the internet. But what transpired later was the imprisonment of multiple women’s rights activists in the country.
If that isn’t enough, a very fresh incident would be enough to expose the dark side of the prince. Earlier this month, Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who was critical of the crown, went missing when he was entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials have claimed they have video evidence showing a Saudi team entering the consulate on Khashoggi’s arrival and it also includes the journalist being tortured and murdered by this 15-men team.